Jose Mourinho believes Liverpool could suffer a confidence blow if they fail to beat his '50%' Chelsea team in tomorrow's Community Shield at the Millennium Stadium.
The Blues have only just returned from a trip to the United States and - unlike the Reds - have not yet played a competitive match as Mourinho continues to fine-tune his plans.
Summer signings Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko are both expected to feature in Cardiff.
However, France midfielder Claude Makelele has been given extra time to recover from the World Cup, and although William Gallas - who failed to link up with the rest of the squad in America - is now back at the club, he will not be included.
England midfielder Joe Cole and first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech are both missing through injury.
Mourinho is in no doubt Liverpool will feel sharper having already started their campaign with a Champions League qualifier against Maccabi Haifa.
He declared: 'They will feel that they are in much better condition than Chelsea, so they have to win the game.
'If they lose against a Chelsea side at just 50% of their quality, that could affect their confidence ahead of the Premiership season.'
Mourinho added: 'Every other team - even the ones not competing for the Premiership - have been working for more than a month.
'They will all start the Premiership on fire and we are not in the same condition.
'I just have to hope that the quality we have on the pitch will be enough to get us through.'
The Blues boss accepts it may take some time for the squad to hit top gear, but remains confident ahead of his quest for a third straight Barclays Premiership crown.
'The start of the new season is a big challenge, but the solution is not to be worried,' Mourinho said.
'We are not ready to play 90 minutes because we have not worked on certain aspects of our game.
'If we drop a couple of points at the start of the season it is not a bad thing - it is a very long season of 40 games.'
The future of Ashley Cole, meanwhile, remains uncertain.
Talks between Chelsea and Arsenal would appear to be deadlocked, with both parties still millions apart in their valuation of the England defender.
Mourinho, however, does not want to be continually drawn on the saga.
He said: 'I do not think it is correct that I am speaking about the qualities of Arsene Wenger's player.
'I think there is enough between me and him. I want a clean sheet, I think he wants a clean sheet.
'We both made mistakes. I do not want to make mistakes any more.
'The only thing I can say about Ashley Cole is what is clear and obvious and everybody knows Chelsea would like to have the player. We made an offer to Arsenal. Arsenal did not accept the offer.
'At this moment things have stopped because there is not an agreement. He is an Arsenal player.'
Mourinho, though, may soon have to explore other options.
'The deadline is August 31 - but maybe before that we have to solve our life because we cannot wait forever.
'Maybe we cannot be in Arsenal's hands and we have to make a decision.'