Like cream rising in a carton of milk, the frontrunners are beginning to surface.
Geon Taradale and Jennian Homes Team Gisborne are in for a collision course in Pacific Premiership football after some decisive statements at the weekend.
"It's looking that way," Gisborne coach Brett Derry said on Saturday night soon after collecting three points in Hastings.
Dale AFC 2 Taradale 4
Defending champions Geon Taradale's experience proved to be the difference after they were locked 1-1 at halftime in the Napier derby.
"They scored two quick goals not long after halftime," a disappointed Taradale AFC coach Jamie Hall said after Chris McIvor, Michael Daly, Jimmy Cudd and Dean Johnstone put shots past Graham Healey.
"They have played millions of games between them up to the national league level so they were in our face a lot more.
"They were at us the whole time and we didn't play smart," Hall said after Tony Parkinson and Hamish Sim beat Chris Penny between the sticks.
Dale AFC are now looking at fronting up to the Western Rangers at Taradale Park this Saturday.
Havelock 3 Marist 2
A tempestuous affair at Guthrie Park saw Napier Marist reduced to nine men with a few minutes to go.
The visitors were 3-1 down at halftime but lost right back Jason de Clifford after he shoved a Best Travel Havelock North player in the chest in the 57th minute.
"There were niggles throughout the game. The ref didn't take control and things just boiled over," Marist coach Dave Carswell lamented after 10-men Marist pulled one back to 3-2 from a David Ritchie goal after right wing Jayden Barrow scored in the first half.
Carswell said De Clifford reacted after he was pulled from behind.
"The ref made some bizarre calls and average decisions which didn't help our cause," he claimed, after losing another player minutes before the final whistle.
Feeling the hosts' deserved the three points, player/coach Anthony Floyd said the visitors were ill disciplined and disputed the allegations the ref didn't assert his authority.
"If that's the case they would have been left with seven men on the pitch," Floyd said, adding he wasn't biased when accusing Marist of resorting to cheap talk from the word go.
He curled a freekick over a wall to the top right-hand corner before Kieran Young and Russell Groenveld found the net.
The result, Floyd said, put behind them the disappointment of a scoreless draw against Ericksen Honda Port Hill United at Marewa Park on Anzac Day (Wednesday).
"In 30 years of playing, I just don't know how we couldn't score because we dominated."
Vale 2 Gisborne 6
A young Cru Bar Maycenvale United won the respect of Team Gisborne at the Hastings Regional Sports Park despite a footballing lesson.
"Three goals, unfortunately, came from schoolboy errors and that's because we had schoolboys who conceded them," said Vale coach Ritchie Howard after releasing some of his seasoned campaigners for the Central League side who Lower Hutt thumped 7-1 in Wellington on Saturday.
"As a coach the result is disappointing but I can't fault their effort," Howard said.
Gisborne counterpart Derry, who ran on to score two goals in the second spell after striker Nick Somerton hobbled off with a calf injury after scoring just as many, was delighted to see a young outfit pass the ball rather than hoof it up the middle and chase it.
The visitors were 3-0 up within 13 minutes of kick off before Vale right wing Oli Campbell pulled one back in the 31st minute.
Mickey Nixon closed the gap to 3-2 in the 54th. Max Logan and Albert Gueze scored Gisborne's other goals.
"The sad thing is the lads played a good game today after playing badly in the last game," Howard said, after Promotem Napier City Rovers, having a bye on Saturday, pipped them 1-0 on Anzac Day.
Derry wasn't pleased with his side's effort, claiming Gisborne were on first for the first 20 minutes and then had a lapse of concentration.
"We need to shut the door and close up shop," he said before they host Havelock North at Childers Road Reserve on Sunday.
"We have a love-hate relationship with Havelock so we're expecting a pretty physical game."
Rangers 4 Port Hill 1
A penalty kick to veteran rightback Ross Palmer set the tone to the Western Rangers' victory over Port Hill at St Leonard Park, Hastings.
Striker Luke Woon got two goals and central midfielder Jacob Rofenditch another after the sides were locked 1-1 at halftime.
Scotsman and physiotherapist Gillon Duguid got the equaliser for the visitors. He was playing his penultimate game before jetting off to Queenstown before heading back home as he work permit in New Zealand expires.
"They struck back but in the second half we sort of ran away with it," player/co-coach Nathan Ross said.
"So far it's been an up-and-down season so it was good to get back on track again," Ross said, picking centre-mid Quentin Morgan their player of the day.