THE loser of Sunday's crunch battle between Griffith City and West Griffith can pretty much forget about finals.
While it's still early in the season, there is a clear split on the ladder emerging between the fast starters of the Billabong Cup and the teams that have dragged their feet.
Already there is a gap between fourth place and the two sides who will both be searching for their first win of the year on Sunday at Exies Oval - and with the pack at the top of the table threatening to tear away, the match is almost an early-season elimination final.
"It's a long year but we need to start putting some wins together," Wests coach Frank Portolesi said.
"If you don't start notching up a few wins then it makes it really hard to make the finals - especially if those top two or three teams keep winning."
The Magpies earned high praise last week from Yoogali SC coach Sante Donadel, who said they were one of the best teams the reigning champions have faced this year.
YSC beat Wests 1-0 after scoring in the opening two minutes but Portolesi believes his side could have won and were unlucky to have not at least come away with a point.
"We were very happy with the way we played but the result didn't go our way. At the end of the day you need to put the ball in the back of the net," he said.
City are winless after three games and were tonked 7-0 on the weekend by a rampant Hanwood FC.
Another loss would deliver a crushing blow to the side's finals chances, but Portolesi believes Pat Ciampa's side is much better than it has shown.
"Teams have bad weeks.
"I know Griffith City has a pretty strong defence and a lot of guys that have been around a long time," he said.
"This competition's going to be really tough so our biggest thing is that we're worrying about ourselves.
"Our big challenge now is to go out there and play like last week.
"If we focus on our style and what we do best, hopefully we'll get more results."