Owner Randy Lerner insists Aston Villa do not necessarily have to spend big to break into the Premier League's elite.
Villa flirted with the top four through the recently completed season before eventually finishing sixth in the final table.
Lerner recently held talks with Martin O'Neill which resulted in a manager who was reportedly uncertain over his future pledging his future to the Midlands club.
Now the American chairman has explained his belief that success can be secured without handing the manager a blank chequebook.
"The ambition and appetite to compete for the top four spot and qualify for Europe is as alive and well as it's ever been," he told the club's official website.
"Exactly how to do that is a little bit more of an open question than simply spend to get there.
"I think from an anecdotal perspective, if it was simply spend to get there then the composition of the top four might actually be slightly different.
"I think there are other strengths that yield likelihoods of getting there - continuity of the manager, being able to target a player, bring him along and be acknowledged as Young Player of the Year, anecdotally-speaking.
"I guess it's my way to try and say that yes, the appetite and ambition to get there is very real and exactly what the path is and whether it's as brutally raw to spend there and get there is an open question in my mind.
"I gave Martin an assurance I want to take the team forward. There's money there to be spent on the team, but I say that carefully within the context of knowing the summer brings a very dynamic environment, with players coming, players going and rethinking existing contracts."