Pep Guardiola feels Manchester City are closer to the standard set by champions Chelsea following an elaborate summer spend.
Having come up short in the 2016-17 Premier League title race to finish third, City splashed out around £220 million in the recent transfer window.
Six players were brought onto their books, with deals done for Ederson, Kyle Walker, Danilo, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Douglas Luiz.
The fresh faces have helped City to make an unbeaten start to the season, with a 6-0 mauling of Watford in their latest outing seeing them set the early pace alongside arch-rivals Manchester United.
Pressed on whether his side are now ready to sustain a challenge for the top-flight crown, Guardiola said: "We will see. But I think we've made a step forward in terms of last season.
"My feeling now is that everybody knows what we have to do, the players know what they have to do, with, without the ball in transition. And that's so important.
"We weren't good enough last season, Chelsea and Tottenham were better. You have to accept it.
"You have to accept sometimes the opposition is better. Then you analyse what to improve for the future.
"In an athlete's career there are maybe 10 or 15 percent happiness moments - you lose more than you win. So you've got to enjoy it when you win.''
While City have collected four wins and a draw from their five games so far, scoring 14 goals in the process, Guardiola believes there is even more to come from his new-look side.
He added: "Even if it looks like we cannot improve, of course we can improve.
"There's still movement, there are still actions we can improve.
"The full-backs are so important. They offer energy to go up and down so that means we can put more players in the middle, to play, to pass the short passes.
"I like it when we play short passes through the middle, five, six metres, that gives us continuity. We create the spaces behind the press.
"To do that you need more players in one position.
"And Kyle and Danilo and Mendy help us a lot to be able to do that. Without that it would be even more complicated.''
The games continue to come thick and fast for City, with Guardiola’s side set to take in a League Cup clash with West Brom, a Champions League meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk and Premier League meetings with Crystal Palace and Chelsea before the end of September.