Nemanja Vidic is convinced Manchester United will show their true Premier League title credentials in the second half of the season.
Despite recording their biggest win of the season against Stoke on Saturday, United remain eight points adrift of Chelsea and Liverpool - knowing they will probably slip even further behind before Christmas because their December 21 clash with Wigan has been postponed due to the World Club Cup.
But Vidic remains unconcerned, claiming: "I can only speak from experience - but after three years here, I know we are always better in the second half of the season."
He added: "We pick up the flow, and our performances tend to improve. I hope it will be like that again."
While Chelsea's credentials - if not Luiz Felipe Scolari's - at the end of an exhausting domestic campaign are already established, Liverpool remain an unknown quantity.
Many felt Rafael Benitez's side would challenge for the championship last term, only for the Anfield outfit to fall away badly after they were beaten by United in December. Having avenged that loss and ended Chelsea's formidable home record already this term, Liverpool seem intent on lasting the pace.
But as Vidic knows only too well, performing at your highest level in April and May - when the pressure is at its most intense - is another matter entirely.
"It is always about the second half of the season," he said. "That is when the games are decisive. That is when it is really tough.
"It is hard to say how Liverpool will handle it. All we can do is keep as close as we can and then push forward.
"I am certainly not worried about the way we are playing - because we have done well in the last few games, even against Arsenal when we lost the match but our performance was good."
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