Sydney FC players may not get another substantial break until next July, with a revamped AFC Champions League calendar potentially keeping them busy until the start of the next A-League season.
The Asian Football Confederation has released a rejigged schedule for the continent's top club competition, with the group stage planned to be completed over two weeks in October in a centralised hub.
The location of that hub is yet to be determined, and whether the Sky Blues, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory are in a position to travel outside of Australia at that time remains to be seen, and could very well depend on the status of the pandemic here and across Asia.
The round of 16 will be completed straight afterwards, with the quarter-finals and semi-finals to be played on November 25 and 28 – again, in another hub – before a single-leg final on December 5.
Sydney face an uphill battle in getting out of Group H, having lost to Ange Postecoglou's Yokohama F. Marinos 4-0 before a 2-2 draw with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors prior to the ACL's shutdown.
The other team in the group, Shanghai SIPG, are yet to play a match.
But if Steve Corica's men make it to the knockout stage, they very well may continue training after the A-League grand final – currently pencilled in for August 23 – to prepare for their return to the Asian arena.
The upside is that with an entirely settled squad and all key players contracted through to next season, there will be no significant personnel changes to deal with.
"It’s great to get some clarity and it will be fantastic to be competing in Asia’s top club competition once again," Corica said. "All our players are contracted for next year, so we will take a good squad, providing it’s safe to travel.
"The timing also means we’ll have top level competitive football ahead of next season, giving us a real edge heading into the new A-League campaign in December."
Corica is yet to oversee a win in the AFC Champions League in eight attempts since taking over from Graham Arnold.
After four months off, the Sky Blues - as things stand - are due to take on Wellington Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium next Friday night, needing only six more points to clinch the A-League premiership.
Firm dates haven't been settled for the 2020-21 A-League campaign, but it is slated to begin in December and finish in July, as part of a controversial transition towards a winter season backed by Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson.