Toivonen was missing through suspension and the fragile Hoogland was absent through yet another injury, one which will keep him out for at least a month.
But their absence was never a factor as Victory outclassed Merrick’s men all over the pitch.
How much inspiration did Victory take from their Christmas Derby win over Melbourne City?
Plenty, it would seem, as Marco Kurz’s side played with pace, power, rapidity and intensity as they looked to prove that they hadn’t just lifted in a one-off fixture against their local rivals.
Kruse had suggested that the mindset Victory had employed against City could, if replicated, see them climbing the table in short order.
In the absence of Toivonen and Hoogland Victory did not miss a beat as they capitalised on the guile and technique of Kruse and the power of Nabbout, with Elvis Kamsoba’s control in tight areas also opening up space in and around the Jets penalty area.
Leigh Broxham went close in the first minute with a header over the bar from a Jakob Poulsen free kick, while Jets midfielder Dimitri Petratos shot well wide at the other end in one of Newcastle’s few first half flurries.
Former Bundesliga striker Kruse should have given Victory an early lead after some excellent lead up work by Kamsoba.
The diminutive wide-man went around Jets full back Matt Millar and found Kruse, who tried to side-foot past Glenn Moss from close range. The Jets keeper did enough to deflect the ball wide for a corner.
Shortly after Kruse made amends and put the hosts in front with a lovely piece of individual skill.
The Socceroo attacker latched on to a long ball played forward by Broxham and as Lachlan Jackson tried to close him down he headed the ball forward and then controlled it before slotting past the oncoming Moss.
Jason Hoffman, the Jets forward, headed wide from a corner but it was Victory, running hard, tackling enthusiastically and closing down the space who looked most likely to score again.
Kristijan Dobras has taken plenty of stick from Victory fans this season and has struggled to convince that he is worth a starting spot, having been dropped on a number of occasions.
But the Austrian was on the receiving end of some heavy challenges from the Jets as they looked to get back into the contest, as was Kruse, who was left reeling by Bobby Burns who was shown a yellow card after flattening Victory’s livewire forward.
Nabbout fired over from a nicely worked corner routine with Poulsen and then went close from another long ball by Broxham which he took on his chest as he rounded Jets skipper Nikolai Topor Stanley before firing wide.
The visitors had their best chance two minutes from the interval when Steven Ugarkovic volleyed well over the bar from a Hoffman cross.
The Jets went closer than that seven minutes after the restart when Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas had to get down quickly to dive on Petratos’ shot from outside the area after the midfielder had been set up by Ugarkovic.
Nabbout had a perfect opportunity to double Victory’s lead in the 57th minute when he had a free header from Kruse’s cross from the left, only to direct his effort across goal and well off target.
Four minutes later Victory had doubled their lead and it was Albanian midfielder Basha who was able to celebrate his birthday in style – as W-league winger Darian Jenkins had earlier on in the womens match – with a goal.
But his joy had much to do with the work of the excellent Kruse, who picked up the ball on the left, cut in and made space for a shot which Moss could only parry. Basha picked up the rebound and drove home off the post.
That was in the 61st minute. Two minutes later Victory sealed this win, and again Kruse was a major contributor in the goal, scored by Nabbout.
The forward had shot into Moss moments earlier, but on this occasion after Kruse had been played through by a Poulsen pass and pulled the ball back from the byline Nabbout eschewed precision and went for power, blasting past the Jets goalkeeper to make it 3-0 and rub salt into the wounds of his old team.
Merrick’s mood did not get any better in the last few minutes as he looked on, stony faced, when Millar put Anthony Lesiotis’s cross past his own goalkeeper.
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing