Andy Peaks believes Coalville Town will be right in the shake-up at the top end of the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central this season.
And, with that in mind, the AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss knows his team will have to produce a drastic improvement from their midweek exploits when they take on Coalville at Hayden Road this weekend.
Diamonds kicked off their league campaign in disappointing fashion on Tuesday night as they were beaten 2-0 at home by Banbury United.
It was a performance that left manager Peaks somewhat perplexed after a seemingly encouraging pre-season.
Things aren’t about to get any easier either with Saturday’s clash with Coalville being followed by a trip to Bromsgrove Sporting a week later before they host much-fancied Peterborough Sports on Bank Holiday Monday.
But Peaks is adamant his team are a lot better than what they showed in midweek and he knows they will need to produce it this weekend.
“I believe anyone who finishes above Coalville are going to be there or thereabouts because they are decent,” the Diamonds boss said.
“They have a group that have been together for a long time, they play good attacking football and they aren’t a club who spend and bring a load in every summer. They always just add one or two good signings to what they have got.
“We had them watched last Saturday and they were very good so we have got a massive test.
“We are better than what we produced on Tuesday.
“It was nowhere near good enough and the performance didn’t do us justice.
“We are aware of how tough of a start we have got to the new season but the simple fact is that there are no easy games in this league.”
Peaks, meanwhile, had words of praise for goalkeeper Dean Snedker who produced a man-of-the-match display between the sticks on Tuesday.
Snedker was forced into a number of impressive saves in the first half as Banbury threatened to run away with things in a dominant display.
“I signed him based on what I knew about him and obviously he was with us in pre-season,” Peaks said of one of his summer signings.
“In that first half, he had more to do than we would have liked but we know he’s a good goalkeeper. It was a good job he was there because he kept the score down.”
Diamonds added further strength to their squad on Wednesday with the addition of former Biggleswade Town midfielder Connor Furlong while academy goalkeeper Charlie Nixon has now signed first-team forms as it was confirmed Ben Heath has now left the club.