Nemanja Vidic is convinced Manchester United will show their true Premier League title credentials in the second half of the season.
Despite recording their biggest win of the season against Stoke on Saturday, United remain eight points adrift of pace-setters Chelsea and Liverpool - knowing they will probably slip even further behind before Christmas because their scheduled clash with Wigan on December 21 has been postponed due to the World Club Cup.
But Vidic remains unconcerned.
In each of his three years at Old Trafford, the Red Devils' form has improved markedly after the festive period.
The Serbian defender sees no reason why this season should be any different.
"I can only speak from experience - but after three years here, I know we are always better in the second half of the season,'' he said. "We pick up the flow, and our performances tend to improve. I hope it will be like that again.''
While Chelsea's credentials - if not Luiz Felipe Scolari's - at the end of an exhausting domestic campaign are already established, Liverpool remain an unknown quantity.
Many felt Rafael Benitez's side would challenge for the championship last term, only for the Anfield outfit to fall away badly after they were beaten by United in December.
Having avenged that loss and ended Chelsea's formidable home record already this term, Liverpool seem intent on lasting the pace.
But as Vidic knows only too well, performing at your highest level in April and May - when the pressure is at its most intense - is another matter entirely.
"It is always about the second half of the season,'' he said. "That is when the games are decisive. That is when it is really tough. It is hard to say how Liverpool will handle it. All we can do is keep as close as we can and then push forward.
"I am certainly not worried about the way we are playing - because we have done well in the last few games, even against Arsenal when we lost the match but our performance was good.''
Vidic certainly feels at home with United, contrary to speculation that erupted around his critique of the English weather.
While Manchester's climate is nothing to write home about, it is at least warmer than his previous home in Moscow - and Vidic is happy to confirm the north-west suits him just fine.
"I definitely feel settled here,'' he said. "It is unnerving for everyone when they move clubs. When I joined Red Star Belgrade as a young player it was two hours away by car. It felt like the end of the world and at first it was very hard.
"It was the same when I came to Manchester United. But you get used to it. I have more friends and I am used to the language. I really feel at home now.''