The Clarets’ previous season in the top flight in 2009/10 ended in relegation after they failed to build on early promise and manager Owen Coyle quit the club midway through the campaign to take over at Bolton.
It took Sean Dyche’s men 11 games to win their first game this season but, despite still being in the relegation zone with eight games remaining, they are just three points off 15th and Duff believes there is reason for optimism.
He said: “The manager leaving the last time – he had everyone buying into what he thought and then he decided to leave for his own reasons in the January. It ripped the heart out of the club.
“It didn’t matter who came in, it was going to be an uphill task. This is completely different. Everyone is 100 per cent – the board, the players, the supporters, the staff. We are all pulling in the same direction, as we have done all season and last season.
“There’s a real belief that we can achieve something this year against all the odds. There is definitely a stronger mentality in this squad which reflects the manager.
“There is absolutely no chance you would think we were in the bottom three if you looked in the dressing room and the training ground because the place is so upbeat.”
With only Danny Ings, Sam Vokes, Michael Keane and Stephen Ward being required for international duty over the past fortnight, Dyche took his squad to a training camp in Spain last week.
Duff, 37, said the hope is they will now come back refreshed for a run-in that begins by hosting Tottenham on Sunday. A similar getaway paid dividends a year ago when the Clarets returned to launch their final assault on a promotion place.
“It was good, a change of scenery,” he said. “Sometimes it’s the same four walls, same pitches, same faces, so it was nice to get some sun on our backs. We had four or five good sessions there as well.
“It freshens things up a little bit. There are different targets to last year but hopefully we’ll achieve our goals, which is the ultimate aim.
“For the last two years people have written us off and we’ve proved them wrong. No-one gave us a prayer this year, and with eight games to go we’re still alive and kicking. We’re going to have a right good go.”
Duff knows he could have his work cut out this weekend as he comes up against in-form Spurs striker Harry Kane, the Premier League’s leading scorer.
He said: “He’s on a decent run at the minute isn’t he? Not a bad 12 months to be fair to him. Full credit to him, he’s been unbelievable.
“They’ve got more than one good player, but he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.”