Manchester City could be looking down on the rest of the Premiership if they beat Sunderland tonight, and Stuart Pearce sees no problem with having such high hopes this early in the season.
The Blues travel over the Pennines to the Stadium of Light on the back of a hard-earned win at Birmingham City, which has extended their Premiership unbeaten run to 10 games, with the manager looking for furher improvements in performance.
"I think it's important that we go top tonight, it matters to me," Pearce asserts. "Winning the game is the most important thing, and if you don't win you make sure you don't get beaten.
"At this early date it wold be nice to be top, even if it's only for 24 hours. We have got ourselves in a frame of mind where we are hard to beat. I think we are an improving side as well, certainly we were better at Birmingham than we were against West Brom. We aim to step up again."
Sunderland have yet to win this season, and their Premiership losing streak, extending back to the last time they were in the top flight, now stands at 15 consecutive games ending in defeat. Pearce is adamant that this is no time for complacency on City's part.
"Sunderland have not had a great start, and have not won in the Premiership in a long time, but that makes them dangerous. They will not be easy opposition, and they are a side in the image of their manager.
"They are hard working and tough to break down. They know that sooner or later they will win, and we don't want it to be against us.
"You have got to match them physically, and hopefully our football will be good enough to win the game. They'll be desperate to show their own punters that they are good enough to win a game at home."
Both managers come from the same hard-but-fair school of playing and managing, and will have come up against eachother on the field many times during their careers for club and country. But for Pearce, familiarity does not breed contempt, and he will be warning his players to be ready for a hard-fought encounter.
"You know what you are going to get from a Mick McCarthy side, it will be a tough game. They might be on the ropes after two defeats, but they will come out fighting."