Pep Guardiola's new-look Manchester City face a"tough" early-season examination today when Ronald Koeman's ambitious Everton visit the Etihad Stadium, as reported by the Chronicle.
City have spent more than £200m strengthening their squad over the summer in a bid to regain the Premier League title. And they made an assured start to the campaign by winning 2-0 at promoted Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend.
But Everton are also stronger, taking their spending past £130m this week with a club-record £45m move for Gylfi Sigurdsson. And Guardiola knows that.
"They are a top squad and they have important players," said Guardiola.
He said: "I don't like to play Monday, the last game, when everybody is done and you play. I don't like that, but it is what it is.
"I'm considering an opponent like Everton will be tough but I expect a good game - and to win the game, of course."
"They lost an important player, (Romelu) Lukaku, but they have a good group of players – midfield players and strikers. They are one of the best teams in the Premier League, I am pretty sure of that."
City's last duel against the Merseyside club was a 4-0 defeat at Goodison Park in January, the low point of Guardiola's maiden campaign in England, which ended with his side 15 points adrift of champions Chelsea in third place.
The City boss refuses to guarantee any of his expensively-assembled squad a first-team place, according to Sky Sports.
Undoubtedly much can change during the course of the season but Guardiola has warned that players will have to compete for places.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said: "Hopefully they will understand that at the big clubs, you cannot have 11 players, so they have to compete with each other.
"For example, the last game in Brighton, Leroy didn't play from the beginning. It was a key point and I changed our dynamic a little bit in front. Raz (Sterling), when he played minutes, he played good.
"In that kind of level in the Premier League, the people who are 12, 13, 14 and play in the game, they are so, so important," Guardiola said, as reported by the Guardian.