Carlo Ancelotti has challenged his Chelsea players to back up his claim that they are the best team in the country by beating Manchester United in Sunday's Barclays Premier League title showdown.
Ancelotti believes the Blues are a better side than United but knows he will have to reassess that view if they lose at Old Trafford.
The Blues are in the middle of a fine domestic run and have closed to within three of United and when asked who the best team in the country were, Ancelotti said without hesitation: "Chelsea. Why? "Because I am the manager of Chelsea."
But he added: "We have a different quality compared to the other teams, different ability. I don't think we are the 'best'. The table speaks.
"Until now, the best team have been Manchester United. Arsenal, I've been happy to watch play. Their football is very good.
"Manchester United are a very pragmatic, efficient team. When they attack, they are strong and quick and they defend really well. Chelsea are a combination of those two teams."
Beating United would send Chelsea top of the table for the first time since November and would put them on the brink of the greatest fightback in Premier League title history.
But defeat would leave them six points behind their rivals with only two games remaining, certainly enough for United to begin celebrating a record-breaking 19th league championship in front of their beaten opponents.
Ancelotti said: "We don't want to see the celebrations of United. If they have to win the title, maybe they have to postpone them to the next game."
The match could also have a huge bearing on the future of Ancelotti himself. The Italian appeared resigned to losing his job after Chelsea crashed out of the Champions League to United last month but he has since masterminded the five straight Premier League wins that have resurrected their season.
He revealed the club had informed him the decision over whether he stays or goes should be taken before the end of the month.
"We will see after the end of the season, maybe the week after," he said. "That's what they've said to me. That's when we will speak about the future."
The Italian appears to have the full backing of the dressing room, with captain John Terry revealing that Ancelotti's reaction to their Champions League exit had inspired them to finish the campaign with a flourish.
Ancelotti himself said: "We said to the players to consider this moment. We had an opportunity to show character and personality.
"A lot of people thought Chelsea would go down in the Premier League after that defeat.
"I said to the players: 'Focus there. This is a great opportunity'.
"We were not happy with the defeats, but the games against West Bromwich and after were an opportunity to show the character this team have."