Roberto Mancini says Manchester United were "very lucky" to enjoy the best of their meetings with Manchester City last season, and insists the balance of power is changing in the city.
Though the teams drew 0-0 at Eastlands earlier this season, City were twice thwarted in the league by United courtesy of two late goals in 2009-10 and were also defeated in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.
Ahead of Saturday's Manchester derby, Mancini has warned United that once City get a taste of winning silverware, they will be strong challengers to their local rivals.
"They were very lucky last year," Mancini said. "Our team is a good team. We have improved in six months. Maybe United have a better winning mentality than us because they have won a long time. This is the only difference.
"When we start to win trophies maybe things will change. When you are winning for 20 years your mentality is very strong. Also when you do not play well you know if you have a strong team at the end of the game if you do not concede a goal you can win. We have improved in this way."
City currently sit third in the Premier League, five points behind United having played a game more, which gives the fixture an edge of competitiveness it has lacked in recent seasons.
Mancini is unwilling to speculate about his side's title chances, but he does want Carlos Tevez to focus entirely on events on the pitch, having become embroiled in a very public row with the recently retired Gary Neville last season when he labelled the United defender "a sock sucker".
Hailing the understanding that has blossomed between Tevez and David Silva, Mancini has urged the former United man to do his talking on the pitch.
"They have a good relationship," he said. "While it is important we play as a team David is one of those players who can change a game in a moment. I hope Carlos continues as he was in the last game. He should think about the game and nothing else.
"I am staying at home and not talking to anyone. I know how important a game it is to the supporters."