Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has admitted last season's success is placing added pressure on the champions to perform.
City are currently third in the Premier League and remain undefeated this season, although it has been widely acknowledged that they are yet to hit the form which carried them to the title at the end of last season.
Kompany believes his side are simply a victim of the overwhelming expectations attached to champion status.
"It's just that we set such a ridiculously high standard last season that people are expecting a lot," he said. "That's fair enough, I've got no problem with that. I just keep working hard. I never really change my vision of the game, I always try to give my best.
"I just look at the league now and we are in a good position. We've done what we needed to do and we've managed to keep ourselves at the right place. Chelsea are obviously doing great at the moment. We never said it wasn't going to be a tough season."
Kompany, 26, returned to Manchester after scoring for Belgium in their 2-0 win over Scotland on Tuesday and he was quick to point out that City are still well-poised early on to defend their title.
"We are exactly where we wanted to be, second or third place and there are still a lot of games to play," he said. "We are just getting through them. There will be moments where we will really switch it on.
"It's already positive for us to pick up so many points when people say maybe we didn't play our best games, but I think we have to be happy with the results. If we can still step it up, it's going to be a great season for us again."