Australia may have been knocked out of the FIFA World Cup but Alex Wilkinson is relishing the dawn of a new era under Ange Postecoglou.
Having lost their opening two Group B matches to Chile and the Netherlands, Australia cannot qualify for the knockout stages and face a dead-rubber clash with Spain in their final pool game.
Despite the defeats, Australia have earned plaudits for two plucky performances, and even led the Netherlands 2-1 in Wednesday's showdown before Louis van Gaal's men rallied to win 3-2.
Centre-back Wilkinson believes Australia have shown that they deserve to grace the world stage, and is optimistic about the team's chances going forward under head coach Postecoglou, who only took the reins last October.
"It's the start of a new era, I think," Wilkinson told FIFA.com. "The boss has come in and made a lot of changes.
"He definitely believes in youth, he believes in young Australian players and he's shown that.
"He's also shown that he believes in playing football and putting teams under pressure. (Against the Dutch) I thought we did that very well, we pressed them quite well, and I don't know that they would have expected that.
"I think it put them on the back foot. It's great to go out and see that an Aussie team can mix it with the best, and we'll take a lot of confidence from it."
Defensive colleague Matthew Spiranovic also has a positive outlook on Australia's future, insisting that the side will only keep improving.
"Australia's coming, and we'll definitely be fighting at the highest level in the future," he said. "In the first half (against the Netherlands), it was all about us.
"We're really showing that we can even outplay these type of teams, and we're only going to get better.
"It's been a short period since Ange took over, and there have been a lot of changes. We've played unbelievably, considering that.
"I'm sure over the coming years that we'll definitely be stepping up and going forward every single game we play."comments