Mark Warburton has warned Middlesbrough that Brentford are not in the Championship play-offs to make up the numbers.
The Bees take on Boro in the first leg at Griffin Park on Friday having already lost home and away to the Teessiders this season, conceding five goals without finding the net themselves.
There were rumours that Boro did not push for a winner late on in their goalless draw against Brighton on the final day of the season as they preferred to face Brentford, who finished fifth, rather than sixth-placed Ipswich.
But Bees manager Warburton said: "If a team wants to play Brentford, then great. If they beat Brentford, that is justified. If they don't, then what goes around comes around.
"Anybody would use the right tool to motivate the players but they are not fools. We are never going to underestimate Middlesbrough or show them a lack of respect.
"But I'm sure they will be well aware of us as well. They will recognise they were fortunate to get away with a 1-0 win at Griffin Park and will show us respect.
"It's important not to give the impression that we just scraped into the play-offs, and that we're just here to make up numbers. It's far from that."
Win or lose, Friday night will be Warburton's last match at Griffin Park as Brentford's manager. He is leaving at the end of the season, even if he guides the Bees to the Premier League, after a disagreement with owner Matthew Benham about the club's new recruitment policy.
The 52-year-old has remained remarkably composed and professional since the news broke in January, so will it be hard to say goodbye when the moment does arrive?
"To the players? Yes," he admitted. "That's a frustration and a disappointment, the two overriding emotions, because they're a young group with lots more to come from them. That's the main ache.
"When it happened I told them the truth: 'This is the situation gents. The club have made a decision. You can all feel sorry for yourselves and do what everyone expects us to do and fall away, or recognise this is late January and we are in good shape, so maximise the opportunity or squander it'.
"With any workforce this is not unique - just be honest - 'take it or waste it, your call boys. We can pack in now'. They have responded well."
The bizarre situation is in keeping with Warburton's unorthodox route into management. A former City trader, the estimated £130million on offer to the play-off winners is peanuts compared to the figures he used to deal with.
"If you ever work in the City it sounds like Monopoly money. But my individual turnover was between £1.5-2billion. Every day. And there would be 10 guys round a desk doing that.
"The final is the richest game in world football and everybody recognises that. But like anything, you have got to earn it."