Manchester City midfielder Frank Lampard believes Tottenham Hotspur are a much tougher proposition since Mauricio Pochettino took over as manager. (Lionel Messi eyes 'perfect ten' at Barcelona)
Premier League champions City welcome the perennial 'nearly men' to Eastlands on Saturday with retired England international Lampard looking to add to the eight goals he scored against Tottenham during 13 years at London rivals Chelsea.
However, the 36-year-old former England international claims City's opponents on Saturday are more formidable since former Southampton boss Pochettino became Tottenham's head coach during the close season.
"I've done well against Spurs over the years and playing them was always a big game at Chelsea," Lampard said.
"Even when I was at West Ham, Tottenham were big rivals so I've always seen it is a big game and something to mark on the calendar and that doesn't change now I'm at City.
"I think they'll be up and around the top six this season.
"They may go through a slight transitional period but I was very impressed with their manager when he was at Southampton and if he can bring the same imprint on Tottenham, who arguably have more quality within their squad, they'll do really well. They are a good side.
"I'm sure their aim is to get into the Champions League, but it won't be easy and there is a lot of competition and there are a lot of teams all trying to achieve the same goal."
Lampard, who revealed earlier this week he will not seek to extend his loan spell from New York City FC beyond January, was named City's player of the month for September earlier this week.
And he said he can scarcely believe how well life has gone for him at City so far.
"If somebody had said I would be voted player of the month by the fans in my first full month playing I would have had difficulty believing them," added Lampard, who has scored four goals in his last five appearances for City.
- Heavy defeats -
Manuel Pellegrini, the City manager, is set to be without French star Samir Nasri as he continues his recovery from a groin injury and he will also check on the fitness of midfielder Fernandinho, who has a hamstring problem.
Pochettino has dismissed concerns Spurs could be carrying the scars of two heavy defeats by City last season.
Spurs were beaten 6-0 in the corresponding fixture last while the 5-1 home loss was no less embarrassing.
But Pochettino said: "The reality is I don't remember the results.
"This is another season, another philosophy, another game and we need to arrive on Saturday with the idea to believe in our philosophy and style and try to get the points," the Argentinian added.
"It's history and it's a different game, different players. It's not important now to think in the past. It's important to look forward. I don't have any concerns about these results."
Tottenham have struggled for consistency in during the current campaign but they head to Manchester unbeaten away from home this season and boosted by the victory over Southampton last time out.
"We arrive in a good moment," said Pochettino.
"After our victory against Southampton we need to keep the momentum, to reproduce the same actions and to try to get the three points."
Tottenham will give late fitness tests to winger Nacer Chadli (hip) and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (groin) while Emmanuel Adebayor will start against his former club despite struggling for goals this season.
The Togo striker has scored just once in the Premier League this term but Pochettino said: "I am very happy with his performances.
"It's difficult for when the striker doesn't score, but we have full confidence in him."