Neil Mellor believes his former club Preston will have failed if they are not top-six challengers in League One next season.
North End's bid for an immediate return to the Championship faded to a disappointing mid-table finish in a difficult campaign on and off the field last term.
Mellor, 29, suffered a serious knee injury during December's win at MK Dons that ultimately forced him into retirement last month, but he is confident boss Graham Westley can guide an overhauled squad to success his time around.
"They should be in the top six come May," he told the Lancashire Evening Post. "Last season was a transition period and many fans expected an immediate return to the Championship.
"History tells you it's never that easy to bounce back. But with the players Graham Westley has signed they should be in the top six by the end of the season.
"Anything other than that and you would have to call it a failure. League One is wide open this season and apart from Sheffield United and MK Dons - I fancy Brentford to do well too - there are no real favourites."