HAD the sequence of events unfolded differently, James Troisi would have emerged from the Etihad Stadium tunnel tonight wearing Melbourne City's sky blue.
It would have lit the fuse for an explosive return "home". But as it is, the Melbourne Victory star Troisi will still be copping it from one set of fans come 7.50pm.
July 26 was the watershed day for Troisi-gate.
The indisputable fact is that Troisi was offered a marquee deal with the cross-town rivals after Victory negotiations broke down.
But the 48 hours before signing for Victory are shaded in grey.
At one stage, both clubs appeared confident of signing Troisi and he was sighted at City's Bundoora base.
Those close to Troisi say he woke on that Wednesday morning believing he would sign for City that day.
He was due to meet City's football chief Michael Petrillo later that morning, but he didn't show at the club's Bundoora training base. They set him a 5pm deadline to sign.
He never did. And Victory trumpeted his re-signing the next day.
Sources claimed Troisi had completed a medical with City, which the player denied.
But City did obtain his medical records from Socceroos staff.
"(It got) very close," Troisi said.
"We were in talks, but there was no medicals done. There was just talks, negotiations.
"Sydney FC was the same as well.
"Things took a bit longer than expected at Victory. I always wanted to stay.
"At one point I thought that was off the table, there was a number of A-League clubs interested and as a player you have to look for other options.
"No disrespect, but there's only two or three clubs that I would sign for. City and Sydney FC were interested, but no-one spoke about that either.
"I'm not in control of that, all I can control is what I do on the pitch and I'll let my football speak for itself.''
The Troisi conjecture dates back to early 2017.
Victory was said to have tabled him a marquee deal. He said there was no offer.
Mark Milligan secured the marquee deal in the end, though Troisi's deal wage makes him one of the top salary cap earners with a contract that morphs into a marquee deal next season.
It capped off an extraordinary pre-season for Troisi, who was linked to Premier League club Brighton and Hove Albion before being photographed holding aloft a Maccabi Haifa scarf.
Israel wasn't for him, he said, before he returned home to the local storm. City eventually filled the marquee spot with Polish attacking midfielder Marcin Budzinski.
Troisi said the saga would make no difference tonight.
"It'll be exactly the same," he said.
"There was a lot of things written and said. That's out of my hands. I can't control what people say and write and think.
"I'll step on the pitch. All credit to City to be honest. They handled the situation well. There's no hard feelings. That's football. I'm rapt things got sorted out at Victory.
"There's no extra motivation or hard feelings. I'm a Victory player. It's a derby. That's it. Everyone wants to make a big deal about things, but it is what
"Looking forward to it, they're the big games you want to play in. It's just a bit different, a bit special."