Paul Scholes knows Manchester United must buck the trend of past campaigns by making a flying start to the new Premiership season.
Since they last won the title in 2003, the Red Devils have handicapped themselves by failing to match their chief rivals over the opening few weeks.
Twelve months ago, Sir Alex Ferguson's men dropped 12 points in their opening 10 games and, despite embarking on a sustained winning streak after Christmas, had no chance of clawing back Chelsea, who wrapped up consecutive titles with two games to spare by hammering United at Stamford Bridge.
Scholes believes he and his Old Trafford team-mates cannot afford a repeat if they are to stand any chance of reclaiming top spot.
'We have to improve our start,' said Scholes, now recovered from the worrying eye complaint which sidelined him for virtually five months last season.
'We have said for the last couple of seasons if we are going to challenge for the championship we have really got to start bang on form.
'Hopefully we can get off to a good start and maybe win the first five or six games to set us up nicely.'
The worry for United fans is the lack of new signings.
While Chelsea made their intentions plain by securing Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko in big-money deals before the World Cup began, as yet, Red Devils owner Malcolm Glazer has not been required to open his cheque-book.
Indeed, the first major transfer involving United this summer seems certain to be in the outward direction as Ruud van Nistelrooy attempts to tie up a move to Real Madrid before his supposed return to training with United on Monday.
With no new arrivals in sight, Van Nistelrooy's departure will leave United's attacking options looking slightly threadbare, hence Ferguson's decision to restore Alan Smith to the forward's role he was bought for when he returns from his horrific double leg break at the end of next month.
'We are going to convert Alan Smith back into being a forward,' said Ferguson. 'He will be back in training soon and should be available by the end of August or the beginning of September.
'I don't believe we are not too badly off in the forwards department. In addition to Alan, we also have Louis Saha and Wayne Rooney and we are considering keeping Giuseppe Rossi with us if Ruud van Nistelrooy does end up leaving, even though I would prefer him to go out on loan for six months.'