Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes his side could be facing one of their title rivals as they travel to Liverpool this weekend.
Mancini is expecting the champions to be given a stern challenge at Anfield despite the Merseysiders' unimpressive start to the campaign.
Liverpool crashed 3-0 in their Barclays Premier League opener at West Brom last weekend, a result which underlined the difficulties facing their new manager Brendan Rodgers.
But Mancini, remembering last year's draw at Anfield as well as a League Cup semi-final defeat to the Reds, believes they will soon recover.
"I think Liverpool will fight for the title this year because they play well, they bought good players, they have a good manager and they have changed their style of play," he said.
"Every game you play at Anfield is really tough.
"They come from a game against West Bromwich where they didn't deserve to lose but football is strange. For this I think it will be a hard game."
City were made to come from behind for their opening win against Southampton while chief rivals Manchester United were beaten at Everton.
And with Liverpool having changed manager, Mancini does not believe much should be read into their result at The Hawthorns.
He said: "They can have a problem in the first month like all teams when they change the manager or some players, but I think they have a strong team for the title.
"When Liverpool play at home it is always difficult for the opponents."
City will be without last season's top scorer Sergio Aguero after the Argentina striker suffered a knee injury early in the 3-2 defeat of promoted Southampton at the Etihad Stadium.
The problem is not as bad as first feared but Aguero is still expected to be out until mid-September.
That has not stopped Argentina naming him in their squad for their World Cup qualifiers on September 7 and 11, as is their right under international rules, but Mancini says he will not be fit enough to play.
He said: "Maybe after the international break he will be ready - three or four weeks."It's a bad knee injury but not for six months - two or three weeks.
"After two weeks he can start to train maybe and in four weeks he can play, maybe."
Mancini is hoping to strengthen his squad before next week's transfer deadline but gave little away as he was questioned on the matter at a press conference to preview the Liverpool game.
City have had a quiet summer in the transfer market with midfielder Jack Rodwell, signed from Everton for a reported #15million, their only acquisition.
They continue to be linked with a number of other players, including Swansea winger Scott Sinclair and Roma's Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi, but Mancini is tight-lipped.
He said: "I am sure we will do what we want in one week.
"We are working, We can't say a name or how many players, but in the last days we will be working."
Another player reportedly of interest to Mancini is Athletic Bilbao midfielder or defender Javi Martinez but the City boss claims he is too expensive.
The Spaniard, also a rumoured target for Bayern Munich, is thought to have a #31million release clause in his contract.
Mancini said: "It is difficult, his cost is too big. It is too high for me."