Back in February, the Socceroos said goodbye to former captain, Craig Moore as they thumped Qatar in an Asian World Cup qualifier in Melbourne. But as they prepare for another meeting with Bruno Metsu's side on October 15th in Brisbane, Moore's return to the fold could be crucial to Australia's smooth passage to South Africa 2010.
The Queensland Roar skipper has re-discovered his taste for international football which is great news for coach Pim Verbeek.
Although Australia safely negotiated the opening hurdle in their fourth round campaign with a 1-0 victory in Uzbekistan, there's no question that Moore offers a different kind of quality in central defence. Like national captain Lucas Neill, of West Ham United, he's accustomed to marking the highest calibre of striker.
Neill's current partner at the back, Chris Coyne, however, went from the euphoria of helping achieve a clean sheet in front of a full-house in Tashkent to sitting on the bench as an unused sub before 3,500 fans at the Alexandra Stadium as his club side, Colchester United, visited Crewe in England's League One.
Coyne has barely put a foot wrong in his step up to international football this year as he renews a partnership with Neill that was moulded in their days together for Australia's under-23 side, the Olyroos. But Moore, a former Rangers and Newcastle United defender, is in a different class, even as he winds down his career in the A-League and approaches his 33rd birthday in December.
Moore's desire to play again on the world stage came after watching Euro 2008 on television. He initially feared that the A-League's short season would make it tough to stay fit enough to play international football year-round but has since revised his opinion. While Verbeek has done an excellent job of blooding new talent for a demanding World Cup qualifying campaign, Australia's most outstanding players remain the evergreens - Moore included - from Germany 2006.
The likes of Scott Chipperfield, Brett Emerton, Tim Cahill and even the distant and often injured Mark Viduka remain crucial figures in Australia's bid to match their stirring performance last time out.
Chipperfield proved in his return to the fold in Uzbekistan - where he was Australia's most effective defensive and attacking player - that he has lost nothing of his blue-collar value, despite a long injury layoff at FC Basel. He provides everything that David Carney does, without the occasional defensive lapses.
Emerton is a similar kind of skilful and athletic player who poses a threat at both ends of the field and can dazzle opponents with his Premier League pedigree.
Cahill, like Viduka, hasn't been sighted in an Australian shirt for a while, but has the kind of X-factor that separates the Socceroos from the honest toilers in central Asia and the Middle East.
Verbeek's shrewd decision to leave Joshua Kennedy off the teamsheet for the qualifier in Tashkent was more than another example of the Dutchman's renowned cautiousness. He knows that the towering Karlsruhe striker will remain a nasty surprise when the Uzbekis visit Australia on April 1st.
By scoring one goal and creating the penalty for the other in Australia's slightly fortuitous 2-1 victory over the Netherlands on September 6th, Kennedy gave another indication that he's about to progress from the bit-part player role that Guus Hiddink fashioned for him at Germany 2006, to the spearhead of Australia's attack - in home games, at least.
It's hoped that Verbeek will throw caution to the wind and play Kennedy up front with his fellow Victorian, Scott McDonald - the diminutive Celtic striker with whom he formed a partnership in Australian junior teams.
The pair worked well together in Australia's 3-0 defeat over Qatar in February. Throw in a rejuvenated Harry Kewell, Cahill, Mark Bresciano plus Emerton and Chipperfield and you have the potential for some entertaining and effective football.
In a starring support role is utility player Luke Wilkshire, who's improved in leaps and bounds since Hiddink threw him in the deep end at Germany 2006. The recent Dynamo Moscow recruit - who two years ago was struggling in England's lower divisions - now looks as though he thinks he belongs in international football.
Defensive midfielders Vince Grella, of Blackburn Rovers, and PSV's Jason Culina, both missed the match in Tashkent. While Carl Valeri and Jacob Burns toiled admirably in their absence, Grella and Culina - two more of Hiddink's 2006 heroes - will remain first choice.
Australia's unadventurous and unsuccessful Olympics campaign - ill-conceived by Olyroos coach Graham Arnold - was an opportunity missed when it came to developing players for the more important World Cup campaign. Declaring he was going all out for a medal, Arnold's side came home with two defeats and a draw and just one goal scored.
It means that gifted attacking youngsters like Bruce Djite and Nathan Burns - ignored by Arnold - will have to taste international experience in a different way. Both are at the start of their first European contracts and have the potential to make an impact at the 2010 World Cup should Australia qualify. Djite came on as a sub in the Uzbekistan game.
According to coach Verbeek, fifteen points should be enough for the Socceroos to book their tickets to South Africa. Victory in Brisbane over a fast-improving Qatar side would mean that Australia would be two fifths of the way there, with another six matches left.
• Sydney-born Jason Dasey www.jasondasey.com is a host for Soccernet SportsCenter and SportsCenter. He covered the 2006 World Cup and 2007 Asian Cup for ESPN.