Four games into the domestic Twenty20 competition, Wellington continue to be the team many thought they were.
On paper they possess a balanced and talented side. Only, if Jesse Ryder doesn't go big, then they don't tend to fire.
The Firebirds have managed two wins and two defeats so far, in which time they've also shown that their overall ability to shy away from the big moments hasn't changed.
Ryder, with 90 off 57 and 75 from 26 in their victories over Canterbury and Central Districts, took all the pressure off his team-mates.
Likewise, having Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait for that Canterbury game enabled the bowlers to go about their work quietly, safe in the knowledge that Tait was able to carry the attack on his broad shoulders.
Which brings us to the Basin Reserve and today's clash with win-less CD.
The Firebirds flogged them in this summer's previous meeting, winning by 55 runs in a one-sided encounter at McLean Park.
Should Ryder be in the runs again today and Wellington go on to win, then they will feel that the knockers have been silenced and all is well in the camp, after Sunday's 82-run defeat to Otago.
But it would really be good if Ryder got out off the first ball of the match and blokes like Michael Pollard, Michael Papps and Grant Elliott stood up and got some runs instead.
Even better would be if the same scenario played out against Auckland in two days' time.
It's no good imports Tamim Iqbal and Chris Woakes having blinders, or even New Zealand-born Aussie recruit Luke Ronchi.
Ronchi's likely to be a Black Cap in the near future, while Woakes and Iqbal will disappear home before long.
Scott Kuggeleijn is emerging as a late-middle-order batsman of some prowess, and hopefully that can continue, but his runs should be regarded as bonus ones at this stage of his career.
The Firebirds really need some performances from their meat-and-potatoes, regular season-in-season-out, players.
Wellington coach Jamie Siddons is, rightly, fond of his charges and happy to sing their praises; now it is their turn to back up his kind words.
They certainly have the ability to do so.Confronting them today is a CD side who have yet to get their campaign properly under way.
They fielded a couple of modest sides in their previous losses to ND and Wellington, but are not far off full strength today.
Jacob Oram will turn out for the first time this season and ought to get a rousing reception from the Basin Reserve crowd.
Oram's been a target for talkback opprobrium over the years but deserves to be regarded as a guy who did well to be a prolonged success at international level, given how susceptible his body was to injury.
Around him, the usual assortment of Jamie How and Mathew Sinclair will be on deck, while Adam Milne and Zimbabwean Kyle Jarvis should provide some penedhtration with the new ball.
CD's quick bowlers were appalling last time out against Wellington and surely won't be that bad again.
If fit to play, the returning Tarun Nethula and Kieran Noema-Barnett would add some welcome balance to the Stags' attack.
Elsewhere, Auckland host ND at Eden Park, while Otago travel up to Timaru to meet Canterbury.
The Wizards have signed Aussie quick bowler Mitchell Claydon for the rest of their campaign, after the deal they had with West Indian Dwayne Smith fell through.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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