Chris Hughton suspects that Saturday's opening Premiership opponents Birmingham City have moved up a level from last term.
Our first team coach reasons that the priority of the St Andrews outfit going into last season would have been top-flight survival, but agrees it could be a whole new ball game this time around.
"Yes, definitely," stated Chris. "I'm sure going into last season their aim would have been to stay in the division. I think now with the players they've brought in and the investments they've made, they'll be looking for more than that."
The key investments made by manager Steve Bruce this summer were securing the future of the brilliant Christophe Dugarry, who made a stunning impression last season after joining on loan in January, and, in quite a coup, the signing of midfielder David Dunn from Blackburn.
Add these to Bruce's winter window shopping of, among others, Stephen Clemence, Matthew Upson and Jamie Clapham - Chris added that Birmingham now have a squad of Premiership depth.
"We saw them play last weekend and they almost put two different sides out, so that's testament to the players they've brought in and the players they now have at the club.
"They have a very good work ethic and work very hard in midfield. What they've done is added the quality of the likes of Dugarry and Dunn and they have the flair that can go out and win games."
Another factor that the blue side of England's second city rely is the din whipped up by their fervent support at home games.
"They create a special atmosphere, no doubt about that. It will be a full house, most of their games will be a home and that's one of the elements we're up against as well.