Melbourne Victory have shown their title-winning pedigree to kick off the A-League finals, progressing to the last four with a 3-1 dismissal of Wellington Phoenix.
Victory's foreigners ended Wellington's season on Friday night at AAMI Park.
Georg Niedermeier, Kosta Barbarouses and Ola Toivonen scored the goals while Keisuke Honda and Raul Baena marshalled the midfield against a physical Phoenix outfit, who ended with 10 men.
Substitute Sarpreet Singh curled a delightful ball for golden boot winner Roy Krishna to give Wellington hope at 2-1, but Toivonen's superb dinked finish killed the contest with 20 minutes remaining.
The Swede was unplayable at times and might have added to his tally but for selfless passes when shooting was a better option.
The win sets up a tasty rematch of last year's semi-final with Sydney FC, won 3-2 by Kevin Muscat's side en route to their fourth championship.
Underdogs Wellington, rank outsiders in their first final in four years, took it up to Victory in the opening half hour.
They had the first five shots of the contest; none closer to a breakthrough than Krishna's effort in the opening minute that had recalled gloveman Lawrence Thomas at full stretch.
As Victory began to play their way in, the hard-as-nails Nix responded with tough treatment.
Toivonen was floored twice by blows to the head, then brought down by David Williams' late sliding tackle.
From the resulting set piece, Victory took the lead.
Marquee man Honda stepped up and lobbed the ball over the Phoenix defence, allowing Niedermeier to ghost past Andrew Durante, arch his back and nod past Filip Kurto.
Within two minutes of the restart, Barbarouses should have tapped in to make it 2-0 but the Kiwi forward sliced Toivonen's cross wide of the far post.
Shortly after, the pair combined again and made no mistake.
Mandi's awful backpass allowed Toivonen to play in Barbarouses, who placed his shot calmly under the onrushing Kurto.
The Spanish midfielder was hooked shortly after, with Mark Rudan switching systems and placing Krishna as the sole frontman.
Singh found the Fijian alone in the box on 64 minutes and he poked an effort past Thomas.
Victory responded maturely.
Baena won a key midfield battle and Victory raced the ball downfield, allowing Toivonen to chip over Kurto from an acute angle.
The dominant Swede was then elbowed by Michal Kopczynski, earning the Pole a second yellow and an injury-time sending off.