Brentford defender Harlee Dean says the experiences of last season's promotion bid will stand them in good stead this term.
The Bees have made a solid start to the League One campaign just three months after they were dramatically denied automatic promotion by Doncaster's last-minute goal, and then lost in the play-off final to Yeovil.
"I think we are stronger, fitter and after last year a bit more experienced," said Dean.
"We all know what we are going to face, a long, gruelling, 10-month season and trips to Carlisle on a Tuesday night, whereas last year it was all new to us.
"A lot happened last year. There won't be many retired pros who could say they went through a season like we had in their whole career. One kick away from the Championship, picking ourselves up and then losing in the final at Wembley.
"Having that experience behind us is a massive thing. If we don't make it this season it will be even harder.
"The expectation should be higher. Last season we were thinking 'maybe we can do it'. This year it's 'we should do it'."