Cesar Azpilicueta hopes Chelsea will have taken important lessons from their last “terrible” Premier League title defence.
The Blues swept to the English top-flight crown under Jose Mourinho in 2014-15, with Eden Hazard starring as he collected the PFA Player of the Year award.
A humbling fall from grace saw the west London outfit toil a year on, though, with Hazard among those to suffer an untimely dip in form as Mourinho was ushered through the exits.
Chelsea restored domestic dominance with Antonio Conte at the helm in 2016-17, and Azpilicueta is looking for them to build from this point rather than suffer another regression.
The Spanish defender told the club’s official website: “After being champions three years ago we had a terrible season and we have to learn from this.
“We know after being champions of the Premier League, every team we are going to face, they want to win more than before so we know that it is going to be harder.
“That is what we are working on in pre-season, to get into the best shape as soon as possible and to fight for it because it is a big challenge.
“We are back in the Champions League, we are the current Premier League champions and we have a big season ahead of us.”
Azpilicueta impressed as part of a three-man defensive unit last season, with Chelsea benefiting from a consistent and stable starting line-up.
His fellow countryman Cesc Fabregas was another to catch the eye, with his assist-making ability coming to the fore, and both men will be expected to deliver once again in 2017-18.
“We expect a big season from all of us,” added Azpilicueta.
“Obviously Cesc is a very good player with very good experience and he has given a lot in the team, but what I expect as a team is all of us to keep improving and to reach the targets that we are looking for.”
Chelsea will look to secure the first silverware of the new season in a Community Shield clash with London rivals Arsenal on August 6, before opening the defence of their Premier League crown at home to Burnley the following weekend.