After last Saturday's win over a conveniently weakened Consadole Sapporo side - a 2-1 scoreline that could and should have been greater - Omiya Ardija tomorrow return to a task that has confounded them since early April. For it was then that the Squirrels last won a league match at Omiya Park, a 2-0 defeat of Oita Trinita that was lit up by two superb pieces of shooting from Masato Saito.
Since then, Ardija have singularly failed to put together any kind of home form and while they have to a great extent been rescued by some terrific results achieved away from home, Yasuhiro Higuchi has throughout 2008 been unable to inject into his charges a level of consistency. A hard-fought 3-2 win at tomorrow's opponents Gamba Osaka, for example, was immediately followed by a crushing defeat in Saitama by FC Tokyo.
But the signs are there that Higuchi is beginning to put in place a team with some backbone. Slovenian Klemen Lavric continues to settle into life in the J-League and netted a deserved goal in Sapporo; he has also in the main avoided any of the disciplinary problems that dogged Salles, the last big foreign forward brought to Japan by Omiya. After an impressive display against Consadole, it's to be hoped that Lavric will retain his place up front alongside Denis Marques, at the expense of goalshy Kota Yoshihara.
In the centre, Naoya Saeki would appear to have made his own the key role of holding midfielder and is now enjoying his longest run in the first team since moving to Ardija from Vissel Kobe. Daigo Kobayashi, too, showed some glimpses in Hokkaido that he may be returning to form and was unlucky on a couple of occasions not to find the net.
It's to be hoped that these positives will pay off for Higuchi in terms of more consistent results - but Gamba's season, complicated by their Asian Champions League obligations, has also been particularly up and down. Following the sale of top scorer and ex-Squirrels legend Bare, the Blue-and-Blacks find themselves on a run of one win in seven matches, with even that modest triumph coming at lowly JEF United.
The weekend saw Gamba slip to a 2-1 defeat at Yokohama F Marinos, their goal a rare effort from midfielder Takahiro Futagawa - whereas what the 2005 champions need as a priority is to be reassured that Lucas can fill the void left by Bare's departure. Now is probably as good a time as any for Omiya to be hosting Gamba and a dominant performance from the key players mentioned above would go some way towards securing three more vital J1 points.