David Moyes believes Friday night's friendly win against Malaga will stand Everton in good stead as they aim to improve on last season's European disappointment.
The Toffees, who were drawn against Czech side Sigma Olomouc for a place in the Europa League group stage, crashed out of the UEFA Cup last season to Standard Liege in the first round.
Moyes said: "We want to avoid that again. Getting through this play-off tie and reaching the Europa League format is crucial. Beating Malaga will be a real help to our preparation. It was like a European tie and that will give us a bit of help for the Europa League matches we have coming up, the first in just over a week."
Moyes accepts, however, that Sigma, who beat Aberdeen 8-1 on aggregate in the previous round, will be tough opponents.
But he insisted: "They are not (as tough as) Standard Liege, who beat us last season in the UEFA Cup.
"The European draw is difficult, the Czech side put eight past Aberdeen so I will need to have a chat with Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee about that and what he thinks they are like.
"As yet I don't know a great deal about them. But that will change when I start work on it.
"But they are not Standard Liege, they are not as good as that. At least this will not be as tough as last season, Liege were such a good side to get at this stage.
"But it will still be hard. We have to see whether we are good enough."