Vincent Kompany sees all the strengthening being done by ambitious contenders to Manchester City's title, listens excitedly for the whistle to trigger another season's English Premier League skirmishing and cannot wait for the challenge. "I live for this," City's skipper explains.
The prospect of demanding competition is one of the reasons Kompany signed a five-year contract at the Etihad on Thursday, believed to be around 125,000 ($245,000) a week (excluding bonuses and incentives). "I thrive on the challenge," continued the thoughtful Belgian. "If it wasn't a challenge I'd be long gone. It has to be difficult. For City, that is what it's been in the last five, six years. It's not just a challenge against league rivals but against [critical] opinions. I love it. Whether it was us or Liverpool winning it last season it would have been good because we both have a refreshing philosophy."
He loves the uncertainty of the challenge. "Last year, how many times did we say that a team were champions? At the beginning of the season, we were 'champions'. Then we had a lot of games in hand so people forgot about us.
"Arsenal were 'champions' for a long time. Then Chelsea were 'champions', then Liverpool 'champions'. Then all of a sudden people said, 'We told you all along City were champions'.
"That's what I like about the Premier League. It's too close to call. This season again, people are just shooting in the wind, giving opinions. We are competing against teams that have strengthened but we have too."
Eliaquim Mangala and Fernando have arrived to give further steel in defence and midfield respectively. "The most impressive thing about those two players is that although they are physical they have great feet," said Kompany, 28.
"I can tell you that mentally we are roaring for the new season. All of us are ready. We are hungry for competition. Physically, there is a question mark. We [some of the World Cup players] have not had a single minute in a friendly. We are just training.
"Really our fitness will be put to the test in the very first game [at Newcastle United]. If we get through this what a great message it will be to the rest of the league of our resilience to continue on what we built last year."
Kompany's hunger also focuses on Europe, on dismantling the old order.
"There are three clubs - Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona - who are a step ahead of everyone. Clubs like City and Chelsea - all the contenders are mainly in England - are pushing to change that order. It will happen.
"The Premier League is physically demanding. The December fixtures and January are no joke. It has an effect. I'd like nothing more than to upset the old European order. Our fans, especially those who've been here a long time, have the same right as any fans to be part of that top tier.
"People [other clubs] complain when they get moved off their throne. I find it really funny. You complain, you set up new rules [like Financial Fair Play], but ultimately you're just trying to make sure the established order doesn't change."
City fell foul of FFP but are investing heavily in the local community, including building the Etihad Campus with facilities open to the public.
"This club is not what people think," said Kompany, annoyed by the obsession with City's wealth. "This club has more foundation to it than it looks. The new training ground - talk about a statement of intent.
"That is not just there for the first team but also for developing future generations, and hopefully bringing some local kids through. At the same time it is available for the community. I don't know any club which does as much for the community as Man City. It is a global organisation but at the same time it is in touch with the roots in Manchester."
Kompany was speaking at Capital City Academy near Wembley, having just put some schoolchildren through a training session on a 3G pitch part-funded by the Premier League. Investment in more 3G pitches will be announced later in the year as English football reacts to the need to develop youngsters as Germany did.
"You [England] got a slap at the World Cup, a very important slap, a good one, one that will make English players reach another level," said Kompany, who saw how Germany tackled their problems during his time at Hamburg. "They weren't happy with the level of their first-team players so they've gone back to their roots. They set up a programme that was well thought out. They put the necessary funding into it. All of a sudden, because it is a big country they have such a huge number of young players coming through with quality.
"People talk about the great facilities in England but they've only been here for two to three years. You still have to wait. England will play a World Cup final in the next four competitions for the simple reason that no other country has as much resources to put into facilities."