If we can put our best side out week in, week out, then over the course of the season we will be as good as anybody in the league
Manager Nigel Clough is convinced Derby County will one day "take off" but says the club needs stability after years of uncertainty on and off the pitch.
Clough starts his first full Championship campaign on Saturday eager to improve on last season's 18th place.
He told BBC Radio Derby: "It's not going to be perfect right off and I don't think supporters expect that.
"But somebody at Derby in the next few years is going to get it right and the club are going to take off."
Clough took over as boss from Paul Jewell in January of this year and guided the club to safety, despite a nervy end to the season.
The re-building process gathered pace in the summer and once again there have been a number of changes at Pride Park.
Andy Todd, Nathan Ellington and Tyrone Mears are just three of the players who have been shown the door and in their place, Clough has gambled on a number of younger players, including Dean Moxey from Exeter City and Jake Buxton from Clough's former club Burton Albion.
Clough explained: "We want the team together for a longer period of time; we don't want massive changes now, we have made quite a few in the summer.
"If everything goes well on the pitch and they prove they are good enough to challenge in this league, we want the majority of the squad to be with us for some period of time.
"We want to see a predominantly young side grow together and improve together."
Derby have bounced between the Premier League and Championship in recent years and, after flirting with relegation again last season, Clough is keen to consolidate the Rams' current position.
"We've said all along, we're not going to make any wild predictions," Clough said. "We're not going to promise play-offs or anything.
"But with the strength of the squad we have got, we think we can compete against anybody.
"Ideally, if we can put our best side out week in, week out, then over the course of the season we will be as good as anybody in the league."
The Rams have enjoyed a relatively successful pre-season campaign which has seen them notch up four wins, as well as a 2-2 draw with Premier League side Stoke City.
Clough said: "We've already seen the style of football we've played in pre-season. We've scored some goals, we've knocked the ball about well.
Davies joined the Rams from Tranmere last summer
"That is exactly what we want to take into the season."
One man hoping to make an immediate impact is striker Steve Davies.
With last season's top-scorer Rob Hulse ruled out with a groin injury, former Tranmere Rovers frontman Davies will lead the line against Peterborough on Saturday.
Clough has challenged the 21-year-old to earn a regular starting place.
And having scored just four goals in an injury-plagued 2008/09, Davies is desperate to take his chance.
"The past two years I've had a lot of injuries," Davies said. "Hopefully I'll be in and around the team for the whole of this season."
Davies fractured an eye socket and also suffered a broken foot in March that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
And when he was fit, he was often deployed on the wing or in midfield.
But he has featured regularly as a lone striker in pre-season and was on the scoresheet in the wins over both Notts County and Exeter City.
"When I first came here I was bought as a striker," Davies explained. "I found myself playing a lot in midfield and now that I'm getting a chance to play up front and I'm just thankful to have that chance.
"I've got a chance to start on Saturday and hopefully I can score goals, nail my position and be in the starting XI all year."
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