Derby County boss Frank Lampard says he is under no illusions as to how tough Friday night's opening Sky Bet Championship match at Reading will be.
The Rams go to Berkshire looking to build on a promising pre-season which saw them win four out five of their friendlies with Lampard settling nicely into his first managerial role.
And as he prepares to reunite with his former Chelsea coach and also a former Derby manager in Paul Clement, he expects a tough test.
He told RamsTV: "I worked with Paul Clement at Chelsea for a couple of years and I’m obviously aware of his history here. I know Paul very well and he’s a good man and it’ll be good to see him on a personal level.
“Reading is a good football club. You can look at last year and say it was disappointing which it was, but the year before they were a penalty shoot-out away from the Premier League so we know it’s a difficult game.
“We’re away from home and everyone would probably take a home game for the first game of the season in front of your own fans, so it’ll be hard up against a good side who will be trying to create an atmosphere so we’ll have to make sure we’re absolutely spot on in terms of what we need to do to get that result."
Lampard says Reading's difficult 2017/18 season, which ultimately saw former boss Jaap Stam lose his job, will have little bearing on how things could go this campaign.
He said: “Waves like Reading had where they are so close to going up and then have a bit of a hangover from it the following year, they happen in football.
“Paul Clement came in, guided them to safety with good players that were there before and a style of play that Paul will have adapted from Jaap Stam before him.
“He’ll have been glad to have a pre-season to work on what he wants to do with that team so I expect a very tough game to start off.
“I’m very excited about Friday. It’s what we’re here for and what I took the job on for. We work very hard day in, day out but these games are the exciting part for all of us and I certainly feel it in my first competitive game as manager.
“We’ve prepared as well as we could do, we’re all focused on what we want to do and we look forward to Friday night."