It’s been almost a decade since Jack Clisby made his Glory debut, slotting in at centre-back for an Australia Day showdown with reigning champions Brisbane Roar in 2013.
The Perth local’s career path subsequently took him away from WA, firstly to Melbourne City and then on to Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners before he was welcomed back into the purple fold last year.
Now 30, Clisby has more life experience and slightly less hair than he did when Ian Ferguson first threw him into the fray against Broich, Nichols and co, but his passion for the game remains unchanged.
“I can’t wait for the season to start because I know we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” he said.
“I’ve had quite a few pre-seasons and they don’t get any easier as time goes on, but that’s the beauty of it.
“You put all the hard work in to get where we are now and I couldn’t be more excited about where the team’s at at the moment.
“We’ve got great depth this year, every player is fighting for their position and I think it’s going to be quite difficult for the coaching staff to pick a team.
“It’s a massive squad full of very good players and I think the competition for positions is what drives the standards in training and in the games.”
Clisby’s willingness to embrace the rigours of yet another gruelling pre-season reflect his personal approach to physical conditioning which he believes has improved as he has matured.
“When you’re younger, you look at the senior players doing what they do and you think that because you’re young, you can get away without doing those things as much,” he said.
“Now I’m an older lad, I wish someone had really drilled that into me because all those little details off the field – sleeping well, eating right and making sure you’re in the best nick possible – it really goes a long way.
“You learn more about your body as the years go by and what works for you and what doesn’t and I’m at that stage now where I know how my body’s feeling and what it needs.
“The football side of things, the fitness side of things and the tactical side of things, that all comes from a good foundation of looking after yourself.
“The staff we have here, everyone behind the scenes, have been a tremendous help for us in preparing for this season.”
As always, the new season offers the promise of better things to come and that resonates very firmly with the former Sorrento junior for whom the tribulations of last year were especially hard to bear.
“It was one of the darkest times I’ve felt in my football career,” he said.
“The way everything went, the results, not being able to play at home for months on end, injuries galore; it felt really depleting.
“But when [Head Coach] Ruben [Zadkovich] came in towards the back end of the season, he started setting in stone what he wanted moving forward and the targets for the next season and he’s really laid those foundations and brought those principles and discipline into the squad.
“The players have really bought into it.
“We know that we’ve made improvements and are heading in the right direction and it’s exciting.”
And it is not just on the grass where Clisby believes major strides forward are being taken.
“With all the new faces that have come into the squad, there are a lot of new partners as well and they’re starting to get to know each other,” he said.
“The families are really nice and it feels like a family club and that goes a long way at a club.
“Playing Call of Duty on the Play Station with the boys at night also provides a good bit of banter.
“Beeves [Mark Beevers], Darryl [Lachman], Oxy [Mitch Oxborrow], Burkey [Antonee Burke-Gilroy], Johnny [Koutroumbis], there are a few of us who hop on at night and have a good bit of banter.
“Away from the field, we’re doing things as mates and clicking well and that brings that camaraderie on the field.”
Subject to selection, Glory’s number 14 will make his 50th A-League appearance for the club in next month’s season-opener versus Western Sydney Wanderers, taking his career total to almost 190.
But for all the water that has passed under the bridge since, his memories of facing Roar on his senior debut remain vivid.
“The week before that, I signed my first-team contract and I went out and celebrated with my family at the C Restaurant,” he recalled.
“Then in that week there were a few injuries and I came straight in at centre-back.
“There were some nerves, but it was an experienced bunch of boys and I’d been training with them for a while, so they made it seamless for me to slide in there and I felt quite comfortable after my first few passes.
“It wasn’t the easiest of games to come into, but when you’re making your debut, you’re just buzzing as a young player.
“I remember it quite clearly and it seems like yesterday even though it was nearly ten years ago.
“Time flies in football.”