Pep Guardiola is confident Premier League champions Manchester City will rise to the challenge of a potential title fight with Liverpool and Chelsea.
City returned to winning ways as goals from England internationals Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker saw off a dogged Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium – seven days on from a frustrating 1-1 draw at Wolves.
Liverpool and Chelsea preserved their 100 per cent records earlier in the day, while Watford surprisingly did likewise by beating Tottenham 2-1 on Sunday, meaning the early indications are Guardiola's record-breaking champions of last season will have a little more company this time around.
"We have the same points as this time last season in that moment," the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss told reporters.
"Our opponents have more points than then, Chelsea had dropped points and Liverpool a few. We knew [their quality].
"We want get our best level but I am so surprised at what happened last season."
City were lackadaisical in allowing DeAndre Yedlin to equalise for Newcastle on the counter-attack – an area of the game where they also appeared vulnerable at Molineux.
Nevertheless, Guardiola is satisfied with what he has seen so far across four games where he has chopped and changed both personnel and formations.
"When you come back from the World Cup you never know how you're going to react in terms of consistency," he said.
"We beat Chelsea in the Community Shield and, in general, in the four games we were better than the other teams. That's what we are looking for: to be better. Sometimes we win, sometimes not.
"To be better is to control, create more chances and concede fewer. In the four games – even the Community Shield – it is what happened."
Guardiola is convinced the best is yet to come from his side, with the same seemingly true of Liverpool and a Chelsea team still in the early stages of Maurizio Sarri's reign and free of any forthcoming European midweek commitments.
"We will improve," he added. "It's almost impossible after the World Cup, after what happened last season, mentally for the players and everybody to be in the best condition.
"We need more time and after the international break the season starts properly in terms of having games every three days.
"What we have to do is what we have to do – try to be better than the opponent every single game, try to follow what we spoke about and prepared.
"This period, in the five official games we've played, it's happened. We would like to score more goals but we created the chances."