Manchester City's lavish spending might eventually lead to Champions League glory, admits Jose Mourinho, but the Portuguese boss belittled his Group D rivals by claiming they'll never be able to buy the history of clubs like Real Madrid.
The warning extended to all of Europe's new breed of cash-rich clubs, with the 49-year-old ready to embrace UEFAs impending Financial Fair Play ruling - a system of measures led by president Michel Platini - designed to restore stability to football across the continent.
City face Mourinho's reigning Spanish champions at the Bernabeu a week on Tuesday, after they were drawn in this season's toughest group alongside Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.
The rivalry has intensified between the two teams after the Etihad Stadium was mentioned as a possible destination for Cristiano Ronaldo, should Madrid's unsettled star decide to quit La Liga.
Asked if he was worried about that prospect, Mourinho claimed that Los Blancos have the potential and the history to keep their best players, and intimated that difficult times might lie ahead for big-spending sides like Roberto Mancini's Citizens.
"Madrid, Barca and Bayern are all clubs that have a unique history," he said. "You can't buy that with money. The titles, the European Cups, the history, the fanbase, you can't achieve these things just by spending money.
"And all the best players want to be at these clubs, at these three clubs and a few others that have hundreds of trophies between them."
Mourinho added: "It's still an important factor for the players. Then you have to bear in mind that Financial Fair Play is coming in soon, and Platini says he wants it followed to the letter.
"They are going to impose restrictions on clubs that aren't well structured and make life difficult for them, even if they have piles of money. I know my club Madrid well and the infrastructure is in place to cope.
"But clubs that live exclusively on the funds of their owners won't find life so easy, because they don't have the structure of the historic clubs. And that's why Financial Fair Play will be good for football."