Paris Saint-Germain forward Julian Draxler claims his side are still the best in France ahead of their Coupe de la Ligue final against Ligue 1 pacesetters Monaco on Saturday.
PSG trail Monaco by three points in the domestic table and have fared worse in Europe too, tumbling out to Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 while Monaco beat Manchester City to reach the quarter-finals.
It means the stakes are high this weekend as Monaco look to inflict another psychological blow on their rivals and win the club’s first major trophy since 2003.
PSG will hope victory can sow some seeds of doubt in their opponents, which might in turn instigate a change of fortunes in the league.
And Draxler believes talk of a changing of the guard is premature.
“Are Monaco the best team in France? No. Monaco has a fantastic season with some excellent young players, but we are still the best team in France,” Draxler told Le Parisien.
“Now we have to demonstrate it on the field and starting on Saturday in the final.”
PSG have won both games since their humiliating Champions League exit, in which they led Barcelona 4-0 after the first leg, only to lose the second 6-1.
Victories against Lorient and Lyon might suggest the players have moved on but Draxler says the disappointment endures.
“I do not think that can be erased,” the Germany international said.
“I knew we were not on our best day but I could not imagine such a scenario. Only players like Neymar and Messi, with the help of the whole team, were able to score three goals in eight minutes.
“It’s very, very hard because the Champions League is something special for us.”
Monaco will certainly hope to capitalise on any niggling sense of vulnerability, particularly given they have been in such relentless form themselves.
Leonardo Jardim’s side have won six matches in a row and scored 18 goals in that period – seven of which were netted by 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe.
Get ready for the return of the Premier League with our new live score centre, which features pre-match previews, odds, stats and predictions, live galleries, audio updates, social streaming from clubs, journalists and trusted sources, plus reports and reaction.
Jardim said: “It is a match between the two best teams of the championship.
“A final is always very balanced, there are no favourites. Paris has the experience, it is true, with a small advantage after the international break as it broke our momentum a bit.
“We must not count simply the experience of this season. We have always played a close game against Paris St Germain and we must keep the same state of mind.”
PSG are sweating on the fitness of central defender Marquinhos after he picked up a thigh injury playing for Brazil.
Monaco duo Radamel Falcao and Djibril Sidibe are also doubts while the versatile Fabinho is suspended.