Frank Lampard accepted Chelsea are facing a challenge to finish in the Premier League's top six amid a changing landscape.
Chelsea have claimed just five points from their opening four league games, sitting 11th in the table ahead of a trip to Wolves on Saturday.
Wolves, Leicester City and Everton are among the clubs considered challengers to the usual 'Big Six' this season and Lampard expects his side to be pushed.
"Yeah, they should [sense an opportunity]. They should do because from almost being able to write the top four down at the start of the season, certainly now you can't," the Chelsea head coach told UK newspapers.
"A top six you can't write down because, with the playing field of what we have got now, where teams are investing heavily, you have to respect them. They are well managed, they have good players, they are competitive. There are no easy games in the Premier League, more than ever.
"We've seen it changing before our eyes because I remember last year people talking about Everton and Leicester. And Wolves probably came on their own, competing towards the top six and I think that is the landscape."
It shapes as being particularly challenging for Chelsea, who were banned from making transfers and saw Eden Hazard leave for Real Madrid.
Lampard said it was important that the Premier League club's circumstances were taken into consideration.
"We always want to be competitive but we're all very honest about the situation here," he said.
"Eden moved on, and two number nines [Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata] moved on who were the number nines generally last season.Younger players are coming in."