Skipper Stiliyan Petrov is confident Aston Villa can challenge Manchester City in attempting to break into the Barclays Premier League top four.
Villa came close to securing a Champions League spot last season before a disappointing finale to the campaign. Petrov insists that has whetted the appetite of Martin O'Neill's side to progress even further, despite City having embarked on a massive summer spending spree.
"The experience of being in the top four for much of last season was great, and we want the same again," said Petrov.
"The early signs have been encouraging and we played a team on Monday in Manchester City who are trying to achieve something big, but we trying to achieve as well.
"Manchester City will be a force because they are looking to build something big but we showed against them that we are not far from them.
"They have a chance of the top four, but we do to. We can compete at this level."
Petrov added: "We've shown in the last three seasons that we can compete. We've had good results in that time against the top teams like Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
"We also know what pressure means. We have had it the last two seasons and we need to cope with it again and be more consistent and we hope we can go the same way.
"The experiences of the past couple of years will also stand the younger players in good stead for the battles ahead."