Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has accused the Sydney Roosters of being condescending to his team, adding fuel to Friday's NRL grand final rematch.
The clash shapes as one of the best in years, with the unbeaten Storm and the defending premiers both in fine form and occupying the top two spots on the NRL ladder.
Bellamy added further spice on Thursday, accusing the Roosters using mind games by talking his team up extravagantly.
It came after Roosters skipper Boyd Cordner declared Melbourne the best team in the competition and one that always started the season well.
Five-eighth Luke Keary then compared the Storm to European football powerhouse Barcelona, both for their culture and playing style under Bellamy.
"This week a few (Roosters) players have come out pumping our tyres up," Bellamy said.
"We were compared to Barcelona or something yesterday by Luke Keary
"Obviously they've sat down earlier in the week and worked out between themselves 'we'll pump their tyres up and we'll come out and blow them away with shotguns on Friday night'.
"We've found it a little bit condescending to be quite honest."
Friday's game has no shortage of compelling narratives after the Roosters were barely challenged when thrashing Melbourne in last year's title decider.
NSW State of Origin aspirant Keary will mark up against Queensland five-eighth Cameron Munster while Cooper Cronk returns to AAMI Park for the first time.
It also marks the first time since 2004 the grand final rematch has been contested by the top two teams.
But after skinning the Roosters for being so complimentary, Bellamy didn't miss the chance to heap praise and expectation back on his opposition.
"Have you had a look at their team on paper? There you go," he said when asked why the Tricolours would present a challenge.
"Everyone knows they were the team last year that won the competition and they won it pretty easy at the end.
"We all know who was the best team last year."
Melbourne will welcome Suliasi Vunivalu back from suspension, but the Storm were unsure on Thursday if Curtis Scott would return from a shoulder injury.
Meanwhile Roosters coach Trent Robinson - speaking before he'd heard Bellamy's comments on Thursday - wouldn't buy into the banter.
"I don't think you'll ever hear me talk about that," he said.
"I don't buy into who is favourite or who is not. That's never been my vote ... The odds are for spectators, not for coaches."
STATS THAT MATTER
* Melbourne have won five of seven grand final rematches under Craig Bellamy.
* This is the first time a grand final rematch has been 1v2 since 2004.
* Melbourne or the Roosters have been minor premiers every year since 2012.
Australian Associated Press