Chelsea captain John Terry has suggested that Manchester United do not have the capacity to better last season's performances and that the double winners have reached their peak.
Having beaten the Blues to the Premier League title and the Champions League trophy, United are in good shape to mount another assault on both competitions, but while Terry insists Chelsea can only grow stronger he is adamant United - including their 42-goal hero Cristiano Ronaldo - are unable to rescale the heights of their remarkable double.
'I think Sir Alex realises we weren't too far away from United when they were at the very top of their game,' said the Blues skipper.
'I don't think United have another level to go to. They had a lot of players in their team who have been at the peak of their form for the last two years.
'Rio Ferdinand has been awesome for the last two years and Cristiano Ronaldo was unbelievable - I don't think you'll see that again.'
Ronaldo's stunning goal haul underpinned United's trophy bid and led to Real Madrid's summer pursuit of the Portuguese winger, but Terry is confident that Chelsea's new recruits can match the Red Devils this season.
'I think we can close the gap because Man Utd were at the very top of their game last season. I'm taking nothing away from them because they've been unbelievable over the past two years, but we've been very close to them and we had injuries and a change of manager.'
Terry has been impressed with Chelsea's business in the transfer window under new boss Luiz Felipe Scolari and believes a good start is key to wrestling the title from United.
'The new manager has come in and made a few changes. He's made some great signings. Deco looks awesome so I'm excited to see him play,'' he said.
'We need to start well and get off to a flyer, just keep winning.
'Man Utd have a few tough games early on. Liverpool have made some good signings and will be stronger this year. We need to focus.
'We have a good home record and if we can continue that and get off to a good start we'll be all right.''