Maclaren, who had scored to put the Roar three up inside the first 23 minutes, then equalised with nine minutes remaining to take the tie to extra time.
But it was the home team, backed by their fervent fans, who went through 5-4 with a winner in extra time from Dario Vidosic.
These days Vidosic is a teammate of Maclaren’s at City, and he is optimistic that their new club can go on the road to South Australia and clear the first of their finals hurdles by beating the team that has one championship to its name — that 2016 grand final, when they accounted for a tired and emotionally drawn Wanderers at Adelaide Oval.
The fact that City will, if they are to win the title, almost certainly have to play away from home for three finals matches, does not concern Maclaren.
«Not a worry, it’s finals football, it’s the way it is and you have to deal with the situations thrown at you. They are games you want to play in,» Maclaren said.
«When teams are against you … when I was at Brisbane we played against Western Sydney away at a full Pirtek … they are the games you want to be involved in when everyone is against you in the stadium. You go in as the underdog.
«We have got the firepower to win these games and win the title.»
That game against the Wanderers still acts as a spur for him.
«We were one game short of a grand final, 3-0 up after 20 minutes, we chucked it. I know all about those final feelings and the hurt you can have,» he said. «I don’t want to experience it [again].»
Maclaren believes that City’s experienced dressing room will help calm any nerves — and prevent such a collapse should they find themselves in an early ascendancy on Sunday.
«You have got guys in this dressing room who have won titles … speak to ‘Brattsy’ [Luke Brattan, who did so with Brisbane] and Eugene [Galekovic, who captained Adelaide in 2016] — it’s the best feeling.
«You need those guys to step up in big games as they are big-game players.
«My biggest game would have been the first FFA Cup final against Adelaide in Adelaide. There was a full stadium, it was fantastic that night. We got beat but it was a great experience.
«You really learn from those things when they hurt you. Adelaide will be full this weekend and it will be pumping.
«It’s a fantastic stadium, I love playing there, they are good at home but ultimately our away record is pretty decent as well.
«The boys have won there [in Adelaide] previously at Coopers Stadium so it will be exciting.»
Maclaren has missed the last two games with a toe injury but he will take painkillers to play if necessary.
«I think it’s a cracked toe. It’s good enough to go, I can run and kick, I am in a little bit of pain but that won’t stop me going into Sunday. Last week (missing out) was a bit precautionary from the staff,» he said.
«You respect those decisions, you might not agree with them … it’s a team game, I am willing for someone else to step in and do so well as they did the other night [in their 5-0 win over the Mariners].
«You can get a jab, take pills, painkillers, we haven’t really crossed that bridge yet. I am still working out on the field having that contact around my feet but I will be fine, putting a shoe on is no problem.»
Maclaren is confident that City’s on-loan Tottenham striker Shay Harrison could be the difference in this finals series.
«He has that x-factor. He was fantastic the other night, and when he beats a man he will beat another one, he’s picking out passes now and finding his feet and really enjoying this league.»
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing