Joleon Lescott believes Europe's top teams are now fearful of Manchester City, even after their shock UEFA Champions League exit.
Having taken impressive strides forward domestically, the FA Cup holders and Premier League leaders were expected to stamp their authority on continental competition this term.
They have, however, surprisingly crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage and will now have to make do with Europa League action in 2012.
No-one at the Etihad Stadium is reading too much into the European setback, though, with the club having already shown that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Lescott feels City can now consider themselves to be part of Europe's elite, with Roberto Mancini's side set to go from strength to strength over the coming years.
He said in The Sun: "Even though we've gone out, we like to think teams in Europe will be scared of us now.
"They can see we are a serious team. We have signed some great players who have played in the Champions League before, but we are still gelling as a team.
"I see ourselves in the same bracket as Chelsea and United now, so I wouldn't say it's an added bonus in the league to go out of the Champions League."
City's first outing since being dumped out of the Champions League takes them to Stamford Bridge on Monday.
A meeting with Chelsea will give the Blues another opportunity to put down a Premier League marker, and Lescott believes testing fixtures are just what the club need.
He said: "This is the sort of game we want after going out of Europe.
"Chelsea are one of our main rivals and we are one of theirs, so it will be an exciting game that means a lot and it will be a good benchmark for us to judge how far we have come.
"We have Arsenal after that too but we don't fear anyone.
"On the whole we have done well, and I think it is only the Bayern game away we failed to score in.
"We are not afraid of going to Stamford Bridge. We don't think we'll go and score six like at Old Trafford, because that was even a shock to us.
"But we know if teams don't apply themselves right against us, we can punish them. Our main goal this season was always the Premier League and that remains so."