Touch of grit
The test to recreate the magic of the previous two seasons for the Gaurs began with the very first game. With three of their stalwarts (Edu Bedia, Hugo Boumous and Ahmed Jahouh) missing in action for the opener, the onus fell on the rest of the squad to up their game. And they did so magnificently.
The likes of Manvir Singh and new-signing Seiminlen Doungel stepped up to the plate and delivered a thumping 3-0 win over Chennaiyin on their home turf.
Moment of inspiration
The next few games gave a different perspective. Talisman striker Ferran Corominas stepped up to the plate against ISL champions Bengaluru FC.
A few days later, Goa would need another moment of inspiration. This time, up against NorthEast in Guwahati, the defending Super Cup champions faced a severe test of their character. They squandered a first-half lead. Then went down to 10 men before scripting the last line of the game.
Walk the talk
Having set benchmarks in the league time and again, it was time again for FC Goa to walk the talk. In the games that followed, the Gaurs showed their resolve on the pitch.
While teams around them huffed and puffed, the Gaurs set on a course to deliver the club's first-ever five-game winning streak. Eventually leading them to the coveted place at the top of the ISL table when the dust finally settled.
The final stretch characterized not only FC Goa's ability to rise to the moment, but also showcased everything that the Gaurs stand for.
Over the last five games, their synergy and purpose went into overdrive as they pummelled in 21 goals. It was FC Goa at their best - individual brilliance combined with a defining team blueprint that left everybody lying in their wake.
The expectation was for them to give their all, they might have ended up giving more than just ‘all'. And in the midst of it all, something amazing happened.
With the onset of a new coaching staff, the eyes of the Indian footballing scene was focused on these men from Goa. And they showed why they should remain fixated right there, why it is okay to have expectations from the Gaurs.
As the saying goes, "It's not about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."
And move forward - the Gaurs did.