Pep Guardiola considers Manchester City’s Premier League triumph to be the “toughest title” he has won in a trophy-laden coaching career.
The Catalan coach saw his side waltz to the top-flight crown in 2017-18, picking up 100 points and recording a century of goals along the way.
City’s standards only dipped to 98 points this term, but they were pushed all the way by a Liverpool side that finished just one point off the pace.
Both challengers ended the season with stunning winning runs, with neither putting a foot wrong despite operating under intense pressure.
He told Sky Sports: “We have to say congratulations to Liverpool and thank you so much, they pushed us to increase our standards.
“It's incredible, 98 points, to go back-to-back. We made the standard higher last season and Liverpool helped us.
“To win this title we had to win 14 [league games] in a row. We couldn't lose one point.
“It's the toughest title we have won in all my career, by far.”
“We didn't think about Liverpool. We just think about our game.
“Just focus on our game, don't think about Liverpool.”
City have everyone buying into that way of thinking, with the Blues avoiding any distractions.
They are now in a position to complete an unprecedented domestic treble.
Among those looking forward to chasing down more medals is Raheem Sterling, with the England international revelling in his leading role at an ambitious club.
“I'm just delighted, this is exactly what I came to the club for, to win trophies and be in these moments,” he said of City’s title triumph.
“The manager here, his mentality is the best. It's always about winning. It's the way he sets us up. I'm happy to be here learning and winning.
“As a manager, he's got multiple players in each position challenging each other. No one is comfortable here but everyone is ready to take their chance - like Riyad [Mahrez] today. He's not played much recently but I knew he was going to score today.
“It's been a lovely season after a difficult World Cup. Hopefully I can go one better next year.”
Sterling has international honours to chase down this year, as England prepare for the Nations League finals in June, but European Championship glory will be the aim in 2020.