John Anastasiadis, the mastermind behind Bentleigh Greens' run to the Westfield FFA Cup semi-final, hopes the experience will help to prepare him for bigger and better things as his burgeoning coaching career takes flight.
The 46-year-old watched his PS4 NPL Victoria side go down 3-0 at home to Perth Glory on Tuesday, ending their chances of earning an improbable berth in the final of the inaugural competition.
But pitting himself and his players against the Hyundai A-League leaders was a worthwhile undertaking for a man who played under Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou at South Melbourne, and hopes to one day follow in his title-winning mentor's footsteps.
"Today was a great challenge for me as a coach, to be up against an A-League club and a quality coach, as Kenny Lowe is," Anastasiadis said.
"I'm only as good as my players. If they're good, I look good too. I think every coach in the world will say that.
"I've learned a lot from the A-League coaches, from watching them, how they operate. I think this Cup has put me in good stead for my, hopefully, long-term career."
The Greens boss believes a competitive showing from his players proves the second tier of Australian football isn't far off that of the top flight, but knows there is plenty of work left to do if the underdogs are to bridge that gap on a regular basis.
"The lower leagues have to get better," he said.
"We have to get more professional to be able to match it with the A-League clubs. How good would it be for a club that's not A-League to be able to make it at least to a final?
"We're not very far off them. If we were in full season, if we had a full squad ... no doubt we're getting very close to the A-League. Which is a good thing, because players will be able to go to the A-League ready to step into any team."
Greens skipper Wayne Wallace felt the fact Bentleigh found themselves tackling elite opposition nearly two months after the end of their regular season proved the difference between the teams.
"It's hard to replicate game time," he said.
"Maybe they need to adjust the time frame of the league. As the competition goes on the A-League teams are getting stronger and we're getting worse. I don't know where the benefit is for us."
The English midfielder had the final say on the outcome of the match, delivery a cheeky verdict when quizzed on the foul he committed against Richard Garcia which led to Glory taking the lead: "He milked it a bit."