Roy Hodgson insisted that Sheffield United will not prove an easy opponent for Crystal Palace as the Eagles open 2021 against the Premier League's lowest team.
The Palace manager was asked that, given United's place in the table, he felt more confidence facing them in 2020/21 than in 19/20.
Crystal Palace v Sheffield United full match details and how to watch on TV31 December 2020
He replied: "I certainly remember the two defeats at the hands of a Sheffield United team last year that were sweeping all before them. What has surprised me is I see the same Sheffield United team [this year] that I saw last year.
"That is one of the anomalies of football: one year a group of players playing the football they play can enjoy the success Sheffield United have and this year of course they’re rooted to the bottom of the table having been able to manage two points.
"As far as I’m concerned we’re facing a team who are very difficult to beat. We’re much more used to going into a game as underdogs… they have every bit as much of a chance, Sheffield United, of winning the game.
"It will be a question of which team can produce the best football and best performance tomorrow [Saturday, 2nd January]. Where they are in the table has no relevance tomorrow because you start at 0-0 and start from scratch."
Hodgson was also asked if his side's recent draw with Leicester City will have boosted the team's confidence after a pair of frustrating results earlier in December.
"We all know football matches either boost confidence or reduce it," he said. "If you get a heavy defeat it doesn’t do your confidence any good irrespective of how justified the result was.
"It’s part and parcel of football and one of the most important qualities a footballer can have is understanding there will be good days and bad days and you have to deal with both."