Patrick Vieira believes Roberto Mancini's new improved City are capable of mounting a genuine challenge for the Barclays Premier League title this season.
The Blues are being tipped for their best campaign since Joe Mercer's men were champions in 1968, having landed World Cup trio Jerome Boateng, Yaya Toure and David Silva.
And midfielder Vieira, a title winner with Arsenal before switching to Serie A, senses that City's time is coming as the squad prepares for the August 14 kick-off at Spurs.
The former France skipper admitted: "It was a disappointing game we had against Spurs in May, which meant not going to the Champions League. We were so close.
"But I think there are so many positives to take from last season, and it's going to be really exciting this time.
I feel like we will be stronger than last year, and we will be strong enough to challenge all the top four
"What is important is the team improving. It will give belief to the team that we can achieve our target with the new signings - it will be really exciting."
Patrick, who at 34 has called time on his international career, has been working off the summer ring rust this week with double training before flying out on the US tour.
A veteran of the pre-season slog, he said: "It's always difficult to start the season when you have had a month and a half off.
"It's not easy to come back and start again, but the first day back was a lovely sunny day and it was nice to see the lads again."
Vieira, who confesses a weakness for full English breakfasts when he's off, smiled: "There's always a few pounds to lose to get back in shape, but I have time."