Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill refused to talk up his side's chances of splitting up the Barclays Premier League's big four after victory at Sunderland.
Villa climbed into third place behind Chelsea and Manchester United as a result of their third successive league win, courtesy of Emile Heskey's first-half strike and James Milner's thunderbolt after the break.
However, O'Neill insists there is too far to go for Villa yet to be considered as genuine challengers for a Champions League berth.
"At this stage, when we are not even halfway through the league, there is a general tendency when you win a couple of games to get incredibly excited about something," said O'Neill.
"We had a taste of it from the other side - we lost the opening game of the season against Wigan at home and there was plenty of gloom about the place as well.
"I tend, if I can, to try to keep a level head about things.
"My own view, if you are asking me about it, is that the top four teams, who have been the top four teams for a long, long time bar one season when Everton broke it, those four sides over a 38-game season will eventually command those positions.
"Having said that, Manchester City are very strong - they have only lost one game this season - and Tottenham, despite the hiccup the other day (against Wolves), are very strong.
"Our squad has got better, we have a wee bit more strength in depth in it, and that will be tested over the next couple of months."
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