Patrice Evra believes Manchester United will regain their fear factor in Europe with victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Evra, 31, admits United's reputation as a European powerhouse suffered a major blow following last season's exit in the group stages, insisting only victory over the Spanish champions will help restore their reputation.
"This could lift everyone," Evra said. "If we can beat Madrid then the response it gives to other teams would be important. Don't forget, last year we were knocked out in the first stage of the Champions League and maybe people have that image of Manchester United in Europe.
"We have to change that. That is why I think this is the perfect year to show who we really are. We can't miss this opportunity to show ourselves, it would be a massive disappointment.
"This is why I'm really looking forward to the match with Real Madrid. I've been waiting for a big European tie like this for a long time and it's probably the biggest European game since Barcelona in 2008.
"The fans have been waiting for this too. Manchester United v Real Madrid is a game for big players, big characters, big personalities."
United face a difficult run of fixtures as they attempt to maintain their nine-point advantage in the Premier League while keeping their hopes of FA Cup and Champions League glory alive.
Evra believes the Red Devils must maintain their form in all three competitions to assert themselves as one of the world's best teams.
"It's a really important time for us," he said. "It's important that we do well in the league in February, but we also have the Champions League game against Real Madrid.
"This is the time when you have to win your games and show that Manchester United is the number one team. It won't be easy, but this is the right moment."
Despite United's strangehold of the league, Evra echoed team-mate Wayne Rooney's comments that talk of having the title wrapped up is premature after last season's stumble.
"Nobody forgets the big disappointment of losing the title last season," he said. "It's really important that we just keep going because the league is not finished in February. We have a lead but nothing is done yet.
"We just have to take it game by game and aim to win every match. That's the right attitude to have. In every game this season we have had the right attitude. That's why I think the fans and the players are very happy this year because we really want to show we are champions. We have to keep going that way."