Osama Malik's route back to the A-League from his calf muscle injury has lengthened, with the Melbourne City utility unable to make a first start of the season on Saturday in Brisbane.
City head north to face the club's former boss John Aloisi and the Roar in an early-season test of their away form.
But Malik won't be there as City revise their timetable for bringing their defensive link-man back into the fold.
City coach Warren Joyce said Malik, a first-choice player last year, suffered a setback in training.
"It's obviously been very frustrating … he's had one setback after another," he said.
"He's out on the grass doing a little bit yesterday. We hope this time it's right and there's no more hiccups."
While Malik flounders, there was good progress on City's other long-term injury worry, Michael O'Halloran – who is on track to return next month.
"He's joined in yesterday for the first full time where there were no restrictions," Joyce reported.
"He's back on the park and building towards full fitness … the ball work now is the last part. It's so far, so good."
The return of City's bevy of youth internationals means that Joyce has serious availability issues to face the Roar.
Last round, title-winner Luke Brattan was squeezed out of the side that beat Wellington at AAMI Park.
Joyce wouldn't confirm the 28-year-old would be making the trip north but did commend the midfield enforcer on his response.
"He wasn't a scapegoat. He's trained really well and been really positive … he still wants to be a big part of it and that's the type of attitude you want at the football club," he said.
O'Halloran's looming availability brings to the fore the status of Kearyn Baccus, who Joyce brought in on the eve of the season from Western Sydney as an injury replacement.
Joyce confirmed the club was already looking at ways to retain the midfielder, who has kept Rostyn Griffiths out of the team, when O'Halloran proved his fitness.
Joyce, ever the disciplinarian, kept his players training through the international break, putting them through an intra-club match on Saturday.
The Englishman said he liked what he saw.
"It was competitive … the young blokes have come back now to throw their hats into the ring to try and force their way into the side which is what you want."