Patrick Vieira admits Manchester City face the toughest of tasks after being drawn in a daunting Champions League group.
Roberto Mancini's men will take on Real Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund, the champions of Spain, Holland and Germany respectively.
But Vieira, the club's director of football development, believes that City - who failed to get out of the group phase last season - can progress and even go all the way to the final at Wembley next May.
He said: "You can't get much worse than that, it's a really tough, a really difficult group, the hardest group of all of them.
"But when you look at the football the prospect is really exciting. The players will be excited to play Real Madrid - the first time Manchester City will ever have played Real - and the fans will love it to play them and Dortmund and Ajax."
The group will see Mancini having to pit his wits against Jose Mourinho, who succeeded him at Inter Milan and went on to land the biggest prize in club football.
The first meeting will be on the first day of the tournament, at the Bernabeu on September 18.
Vieira played under the Real Madrid manager in Italy and says he has few equals.
He added: "I played under Jose Mourinho at Inter and when you look at his record as a manager you have to put him up there with the best - if not the best - because of his record of what he won as a manager."
Chelsea, the defending European champions, will have their work cut out in Group E along with Shakhtar Donetsk from Ukraine, Serie A winners Juventus and Danish champions Nordsjaelland, but should progress.
Manchester United and Arsenal have more seemingly straightforward tasks. The Gunners are in Group B with Schalke, Olympiacos and Montpellier, while United will take on Braga, Galatasaray and CFR Cluj in Group H.
There are a couple of glamour ties in prospect for Celtic in Group G as they face Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow.
For Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, it is a chance for his side to make amends for the "stupid errors" they committed in Europe last season, but he warned there will be a hostile environment in Turkey when facing Galatasaray.
"We have the experience of playing against Galatasaray in the past and we will always remember the 'Welcome to Hell' banners," Ferguson told his club's website.
"So it's always a difficult type of match.
"We have drawn Portuguese clubs a number of times over the past few years - the likes of Benfica, Sporting [Lisbon] and Porto - so we have the experience of playing in Portugal on many occasions.
"Braga are one of the improving teams in that country.
"We've never played Cluj before but, after the experience of last year, we don't want to make any stupid errors this time. We will play our strongest team to make sure we get through."
Chelsea club secretary Dave Barnard insisted there was no room for complacency, adding: "It's not going to be easy. Manchester United thought they had an easy group last season and went out early so we cannot afford to do that. We will respect all of our opponents."
Arsenal's draw will see striker Olivier Giroud returning to Montpellier and communications director Mark Gonnella said: "It's great for Olivier to get to go back so soon, but they are the French champions so it will not be easy.
"German sides are always strong, while we know about Olympiacos having played them last season."