Machida Zelvia are only eight games into their debut J1 season, but Go Kuroda’s men certainly haven’t been standing on ceremony since they arrived in the J. League’s top flight.

Four wins and a draw from their first handful of games saw Zelvia storm to the top of the table, and despite a couple of recent narrow 2-1 defeats to heavyweights Sanfrecce Hiroshima and reigning champions Vissel Kobe, the club from western Tokyo remains in third place ahead of this weekend’s derby against FC Tokyo.

An organized, hard-working and direct approach has enabled Machida — which only joined the J. League in 2012 and was in J3 as recently as 2015 — to upset the established order, and three of its five wins so far have come with 1-0 triumphs against a trio of former J1 winners in Nagoya Grampus, Kashima Antlers and Kawasaki Frontale.