Chelsea manager Frank Lampard believes that the club's status as a top-six club will be under threat this season after sides like Saturday's opponents, Wolves, continued to strengthen over the summer.
The Blues travel to face Nuno Espírito Santo's at Molineux this weekend with just one win under their belt so far this season, dropping points most recently against newly-promoted Sheffield United.
And it's the club's early-season form that has left Lampard believing that opposition sides will be chomping at the bit to face Chelsea this season, with a handful of teams, such as Wolves, Leicester and West Ham, ready to jump into the top six at their expense.
"[The other teams] should feel they have a chance. It was always going to be the way, particularly from our point of view," Lampard admitted, quoted by The Mirror.
"We always want to be competitive but we’re all very honest about the situation here. Eden [Hazard] moved on, and two number nines moved on who were the number nines generally last season.
"Younger players are coming in. But that’s not just the story, because you look at teams that have invested heavily, Everton, West Ham, Leicester.
"Wolves were competing towards the top six so that’s challenging for all of us. We’ve seen it changing before our eyes.
"From a day when almost the top four you could probably write it down at the start of the season, certainly now you can’t. A top six you can’t write down.
"Because the playing field of what we have got now, where teams are investing heavily... You have to respect them."
Chelsea might be facing an uphill battle to secure European football this season, but club legend Jose Mourinho believes that Lampard has the foundation set to become a successful manager at Stamford Bridge.
"One thing is the player, another thing is the manager," Mourinho said, quoted by Sky Sports. "The player, I don't think any Chelsea fan will disagree with me if I say is one of the top five most important players of Chelsea history, and probably some will say not top five, maybe top three.
"Another thing is his managerial career, one year of experience in Derby where he showed good qualities and now he has Chelsea in his hands.
"He plays for big things. He plays Champions League, he played a European Super Cup, he had already big matches in his hands, and he has to grow up with the level of experiences, which I believe he can because he has huge experience."