Shane Watson says Australia are aware they must hit the ground running at the ICC World Twenty20.
Australia are drawn in Group C alongside West Indies and Sri Lanka, the only one of the four initial groups not to contain a non-Test playing country.
That leaves Ricky Ponting's men with little margin for error if they are to progress to the Super Eights.
Australia are keen to avoid a repeat of the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa two years ago when they suffered a shock defeat to Zimbabwe in their opening game, before eventually being eliminated by India at the semi-final stage.
"We are in a very strong group - and we're going to have to be at our absolute best at the start of the tournament to make sure we qualify for the next round," Watson said.
Australia enjoyed a 38-run victory over Bangladesh in a warm-fixture on Monday, Watson leading the way with 52 off 23 balls at the top of the order.
They play New Zealand at the Oval on Tuesday evening before starting their World Twenty20 campaign against West Indies at the same venue on Saturday.
"I think they [New Zealand] will probably put us under a little bit more pressure again - it's going to be another step up," Watson predicted.
"The intensity will be up."
Watson himself is looking forward not just to the World Twenty20 challenge but also the Ashes which follow, having been named in Australia's Test squad.
"I haven't been to England for four years. But I absolutely loved my time here then (on the 2005 Ashes tour), so to be part of the Twenty20 and the Ashes is a very exciting time for me," the Queensland all-rounder added.
He will be joined in both assignments by fast bowler Brett Lee, who has returned to action following foot surgery.
"Brett seems to me like he's starting to find his feet," Watson noted.
"I know from my experience it does take a little while getting back to pace (after injury). It can take a month or so to get your body back used to doing what you want to do.
"Brett's in that phase at the moment. He looks really strong - and he's hitting the crease really hard. His best is only just around the corner.
"His pace will only get better the more he bowls. He's getting more confident with his foot and with his body - with each bowl he gets under his belt."