Manuel Pellegrini believes it is vital Manchester City get off to a good start to the season, warning they will be playing catch-up against their title rivals if not.
And the Chilean has gone as far as to pinpoint City’s opening game, at home to Newcastle on August 19, as a must-win fixture.
City began the last two campaigns well under Roberto Mancini and his successor is eager to ensure they come out of the blocks flying again.
"It’s important to make a quick start and to win the first league game, because if you lose ground it’s difficult to recover," said Pellegrini at a press conference in Hong Kong, where City face Sunderland in the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy on Saturday.
While Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said City were the title favourites after spending £90 million this summer, Pellegrini denied that.
He added: "Four or five teams have exactly the same chance of winning. I don’t think any club has an advantage - it’s very equal.
"The only way I can explain how Manchester City will play is the way my teams have always played.
"I have been managing in Europe for nine years and in South America before that, and my teams always play the same way."
New signings Jesus Navas and Stevan Jovetic could make their City bows against Sunderland.