Coach Graham Arnold is only "20 per cent happy" with Sydney FC's performance in possession this season, despite being the only unbeaten side in the A-League.
The Sky Blues will aim to maintain their position atop the ladder when they face Central Coast away on Saturday.
But they'll be up for an aggressive attacking battle with the Mariners, who are becoming known for their adventurous new style under coach Tony Walmsley.
Sydney have managed some narrow escapes already, courtesy of Milos Ninkovic's last-ditch goal against Western Sydney last weekend and skipper Alex Brosque's similar effort in Newcastle.
Arnold said early season criticism of his side's performance is justified, as his new attacking line-up build combinations with existing players.
"At the moment I'm happy about 75 per cent with our defensive play, and about 20 per cent happy with our play in possession," Arnold said.
"Against Newcastle and Melbourne City we conceded two shots on goal in 180 minutes. We had something like 60 entries into the opposition penalty box.
"That shows that we're getting there easily. It's about the decision-making or the execution when we get there, and that's things we'll work on over time."
Among the new faces is Filip Holosko, the versatile Slovak international who can play anywhere along the front but appears settled on the right wing.
The 31-year-old has shown moments of class, but in Arnold's words been a little "disjointed" having sat out the second match with a hamstring injury.
The coach said it was just a matter of time before Holosko and fellow foreigner Ninkovic got used to the "helter skelter" of the A-League and their new partnerships with Shane Smeltz, Alex Brosque and the full-backs.
He backed his squad to counter the Mariners' "beautiful, proactive" football and said they would go out hard rather than attempt to draw them in, relying on in-form defenders Matt Jurman and Jacques Faty for balance behind the ball.
"We watched (the Mariners' game with) Melbourne City with what they did, and we'll go straight back at them," Arnold said.
"It's the only way to play against the Mariners with the style that they're playing at the moment."