Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce says Luke Brattan isn't being scapegoated despite dumping the title-winning midfielder from his squad after their Sydney FC shocker.
Brattan was the key change from City's starting XI between their 3-0 loss to the Sky Blues last weekend, and their 2-0 defeat of Wellington on Friday night.
Anthony Caceres was also dropped from the squad, with Dario Vidosic losing his first-team role but coming on as a substitute.
In their places came an injection of youth, with Lachlan Wales and Nathaniel Atkinson making starts.
The shake-up certainly brought about an improved showing - admittedly against inferior opposition - but Joyce was at pains to spare Brattan from being cast as the fall-guy.
"Brattan's certainly not a scapegoat because he was no better and no worse than 10 other players (against Sydney)," he said.
"(Brattan and Caceres) both trained very well.
"Anybody could have been left out ... barring Bart (Schenkeveld) and they couldn't have a grumble.
"We worked on different things during training and we've picked the best players to do the job for tonight."
With City now enjoying a week's break, Brattan will next come into contention in a fortnight against Brisbane Roar - the club he helped win three championships.
Joyce kept faith with striker Bruno Fornaroli and was rewarded on the hour mark as the Uruguayan broke a five-game goalless drought.
Fornaroli spurned an early one-on-one chance and it looked as though his dry spell would go on until he curled a trademark strike into the top corner to seal City's success.
"He's relieved," Joyce said.
"The opportunity in the first half was a really good chance ... he had too much time to think and when you're not scoring goals and you think too much, it doesn't happen.
"The second opportunity he had no time to think, it was just instinctive.
"He passed it in the corner without knowing what he's doing and that's what good forwards do."