Form will be thrown out the window when Cape Town City host Orlando Pirates in a mouthwatering Nedbank Cup last 16 showdown at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night.
City captain Robyn Johannes issued the warning ahead of a potentially explosive encounter that Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic described as the match of the round.
"It’s the final before the final‚" Johannes joked on Tuesday as City held a morning training session in wet conditions.
City go into the midweek game having fallen out of the race for the league title‚ some five points behind Pirates in the Premiership standings and with a meagre tally of 23 goals in 24 matches. Pirates sit second on the log table and arrive in Cape Town on the back of a run of four successive wins including victory in the derby against arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs.
"We are not naïve‚ we know it is a very difficult game and a big task ahead of us but in games like these, form gets thrown out the window," said the City skipper. "It will go to whoever wants it more on the day and I’m sure we’ll be up for the challenge."
Johannes‚ 31‚ admitted his side go into the cup tie on the back of inconsistent form but he added that they were still motivated to do better than last season, when they won a cup trophy and finished third in the league.
"We’ve had loads of ups and downs this season, but you know we want to get closer to the top of the pack as quickly as we can. This gives us a chance to shift the focus a bit and challenge for the Nedbank [Cup] and forget about the league for a while.
"We want to try and go all the way," he said.
City have battled to score, but Johannes said it was always going to be difficult after the sale of players such as Lehlohonolo Majoro‚ Lebohang Manyama and Aubrey Ngoma.
"The club did well to get hold of players they think can solve the problem for us and we hope that happens going forward.
"Obviously, we’ve been shy of scoring but [have] created chances and we keep going.
"The coach works hard at training with finishing and hopefully that will change things and hopefully we will score lots of goals in the future‚" he added.
City coach Benni McCarthy said his team are underdogs going into the tie against Pirates, but has an eye on an "amazing" local derby in the next round.
The weather forecast for Wednesday in the Mother City is cool and wet‚ another bonus according to McCarthy.
He added that with the pressure on Pirates to perform‚ his players can be freer to express themselves on the pitch.
"I think we are very much underdogs and that gives us a bit more ease to play our game‚ execute our tactics and how we are going to set up against them‚" McCarthy said.
"We can play with freedom because everybody will be looking to see how far Pirates can take this run [in the Nedbank Cup]. We are the team standing in their way and so, hopefully, the boys can get into the game.
"The weather is playing an awesome part‚ so that is good for us," said the coach.
McCarthy said the potential carrot for his side in making it to the quarterfinals would be a meeting with giant killers Ubuntu Cape Town from the National First Division‚ who have already seen off top-flight Polokwane City and AmaZulu in the 2018 tournament.
"If you look at the teams that have gone through‚ the Ubuntu story is one that inspires us because you see them doing the business‚" McCarthy said.
"We will try and play well‚ play to our plan and if things go accordingly and we get past this stage‚ a nice Ubuntu next round tie would be amazing. A Cape derby," he said.
"Two more games and then you find yourself in a final. So it is everything to play for and everything to gain."
Pirates have reached the last two Nedbank Cup finals but were defeated by SuperSport United on both occasions.