New Sydney FC marquee Filip Holosko scored on his A-League debut to hold Melbourne City to a 1-1 draw in a niggly but tantalising opener in Sydney.
An accomplished performance from youngster Brandon O'Neill ensured Holosko answered Wade Dekker's early goal in front of a 17,051-strong crowd at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
Both sides played with intent and quality in the full-throttle end-to-end affair that changed momentum in the blink of an eye.
Sydney kept the midfield congested early with the returned Milos Dimitrijevic showing vision and skill while his Serbian compatriot, newly signed playmaker Milos Ninkovic, made dangerous breaks.
The hosts applied pressure in the front third, transitioning to defence with intensity and forcing City to lose possession time and again.
But City bided their time and waited for a mistake.
It came in the 16th minute when Senegalese defender Jacques Faty lost possession deep in defence, allowing Dekker to score on his professional debut. The prodigious youngster pounced from just outside the area to flash past Vedran Janjetovic at his near post.
From that point Sydney dropped slightly deeper as City ramped up the defence and blocked pockets out wide to prevent the Sky Blues driving down the flanks.
But coach Graham Arnold's reinvented post-Marc Janko attack had been deployed well and always threatened.
Dimitrijevic beat new City goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen with a curling free-kick and the former Danish international gloveman's blushes were only saved when Patrick Kisnorbo cleared.
Holosko showed class from the start and nearly made good on a solid chance in 25th minute with a snapshot from the edge of the box that ended up fizzing straight at Sorensen.
It was right on the stroke of halftime that the Slovakian made his next opportunity count via a wonderfully worked goal set up by another new recruit, a decade his junior.
Former Perth midfielder O'Neill picked out Alex Brosque on the right wing with an exquisite pass, releasing the captain to drill a cross for Holosko to fire home.
It rewarded Arnold's faith in starting the 21-year-old in place of the more experienced Mickael Tavares, as he showed maturity beyond his years throughout the full 90 minutes.
City coach John Van `t Schip worked to construct a break of the deadlock after halftime by bringing on star midfielder Aaron Mooy, who only arrived back in Australia from Socceroos duty on Saturday morning.
But the Sky Blues didn't let up.
More chances came, including a Rhyan Grant curled effort and a header from sub George Blackwood, who tested a resolute Sorensen with a point-blank volley a few minutes later.