Everton manager David Moyes has deliberately lowered expectations this season by admitting his side could struggle to finish in the top 10 of the Barclays Premier League.
Financial restraints at Goodison Park have meant Moyes has been unable to bring in any new players.
But he has had to watch the clubs who finished below them last season make considerable investment.
"We are going to have a big struggle to finish in the top 10 this season," said the Scot, who is preparing for a delayed start to the season against QPR after last weekend's opener at Tottenham was postponed because of the London riots.
"My hope is to do as well as we can. It is well-documented what has happened in terms of clubs buying to improve and I don't just mean the top clubs.
"I can see the likes of West Brom, Stoke, Fulham and Sunderland have all tried to improve and the reason they have done that is to finish where Everton can.
"We have tended to be somewhere fifth, sixth, seventh over the last five years.
"We have to aim to do that if we can but I think it will be tougher for us this season.
"Last season I had higher expectations so maybe people think we have dropped expectations - but when they do that we tend to do better.
"But (repeating last season's) seventh place will be a tough finish looking at it right now.
"I am incredibly ambitious and want to win something with Everton.
"If we can get the players I have brought here firing we have a good side."
After falling a match behind their rival Moyes said his players were raring to go after a hastily-arranged friendly against Bohemians in Ireland on Monday helped some players with their fitness.
"The players are ready to play. We had some who needed the extra week to get some more training in," he added.
"I have a brilliant group of players, a really good team and if we could add to it we would like to do so but not every manager is lucky enough to have millions.
"We may miss out on little bits and pieces but the one thing Everton will be is competitive in the Premier League.
"What we want to do is get ourselves up the league as quickly as we can.
"First of all this year is to get the points to make sure we are not in a relegation situation and then kick on from there."
QPR manager Neil Warnock believes his side can give Everton a "good game" - but admits reinforcements are needed if they are to stave off relegation this season.
The west Londoners' 15-year absence from the Premier League came to an end last weekend, although they got off to the worst possible start against Bolton.
Warnock's charges were trounced 4-0 at Loftus Road, while summer signing Kieron Dyer picked up an injury and veteran defender Clint Hill received a red card.
Both will be missing for the trip to Everton but Warnock believes his side can put in a decent performance on Merseyside.
"It is a difficult one," he told Press Association Sport. "I won't have any new players by this weekend so we're going to have to really [raise our game].
"They are a good side, Everton. They didn't play last week so they will be desperate to start off well.
"If you look at their team it is full of [good players]. I know they've not signed anybody but I think they are one of the best eight clubs in the country.
"So it is always difficult but there's always a great atmosphere down at Goodison Park.
"I am looking forward to going there and I am sure we can give them a good game."
Warnock has endured a frustrating summer in the transfer market as he looks to build a side capable of avoiding relegation.
The former Sheffield United boss has managed to bring in six new faces but hopes for up to five more before the transfer window closes.
Warnock's hopes of further strengthening the squad were boosted as Malaysian business tycoon Tony Fernandes completed his takeover of the west London club.
"It has been difficult [this summer] but I don't think we need to worry about the past now," he said. "We've got to look forward.
"We've still got nearly two weeks left of the [transfer] window and we have got to try and get the players in that I think we need to stabilise ourselves.
"Mangers want good players and the Premier League is a cruel place if you haven't got them so to be able to hopefully get another three, four, five players before the end of the window is an exciting time for us."
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