HE accepts that there is next to no chance of playing in the finals but Jets midfielder Ben Kantarovski will still reflect on 2018-19 as a season of achievement, having realised a career goal of a different kind.
Kantarovski, 27, recently completed a Bachelor of Psychology degree at the University of Newcastle, a process he said kicked off "eight or nine years ago".
Having debuted in the A-League as a 16-year-old, while attending Lambton High School, Kantarovski expressed gratitude towards Newcastle's then administration for insisting that his education remained a priority.
"I was fortunate enough that when I first started playing football, my original contract said that I had to finish school, because I was in Year 10 or 11," he said.
"Part of the contract was that if I didn't finish school, my contract was to be terminated, which was credit to the club.
"They saw that was a positive thing in a footballer."
Joking that he was the proud owner of "an expensive piece of paper", Kantarovski was undecided about what area of psychology he would like to specialise when his playing days are over.
But should he decide to pursue a coaching career, he felt his study would be beneficial.
"It really is an interesting field, especially when you come to the elite level and you talk to coaches and how they see their team and players, and how you treat players in a team setting and as individuals," he said.
"I think it plays a major part in it.
"If I was a coach, and I was to go down that path, I guess it would be useful for myself.
"But at this stage, I'm just making sure I focus on playing Perth this week and whatever psychology stuff I can use in that will be a bonus."
Newcastle need a win in Perth, against the competition leaders, to have any hope of keeping their minuscule finals hopes alive.
They are seven points adrift of the top six, with three games remaining, and would need to a miraculous combination of results to scrape into the play-offs.
Kantarovski, Newcastle's most-capped player with 178 A-League appearances, said his teammates were still determined to finish the season strongly, starting with a win that would force Perth to wait at least one more week to collect the Premiers' Plate.
"It's not easy to be where we are, but we look at it and want to keep building," he said. "That's what we've been trying to do all season. We just haven't had the results go our way, and we haven't scored as many goals as we would have liked to ... but it's just about taking the positives out of this season and keep building for the next one."
He was excited about the challenge of trying to shut down Perth playmaker Diego Castro, who has an impressive record of six wins, two draws and five goals from his nine games against Newcastle.
"He's got a great set of skills ... he's quite fun to play against, because you never know what he's going to do," Kantarovski said.