Jackie McNamara admits it will be tough for Dundee United and Aberdeen to challenge Celtic for the Scottish Premiership title this season.
But the Tannadice manager, whose charges entertain the Dons on Saturday, remains hopeful that a team can run Ronny Deila's side close.
"Everybody wants to see a potential challenge to Celtic, which is a big ask with the finances and all the resources," McNamara said.
"But both teams would love to do that."
When asked if he believes United or Aberdeen can push Celtic all the way this season, McNamara added: "That remains to be seen.
"Inverness are in second place just now and are doing fantastically well this season.
"It's always a big ask, but we'll see at the end of the season where we lie."
United go into Saturday's match four points adrift of leaders Celtic, with the Dons three points further back.
|Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara|
|"Going forward we look dangerous, we were disappointed with the last bits of the game against Ross County, but on the whole the squad is looking okay."|
McNamara's men beat Aberdeen 3-0 at Pittodrie in the opening match of the season and go into Saturday's game on the back of three straight wins in all competitions.
"We're very close in terms of points and Aberdeen are on a good bit of form just now," added the United boss.
"We managed to get the upper hand in the first game of the season and last year they had the upper hand on us, so it should be an entertaining game.
"We've been okay, but there's always room for improvement.
"Going forward we look dangerous, we were disappointed with the last bits of the game against Ross County, but on the whole the squad is looking okay."
The Tannadice side's last outing was a 3-2 win at Ross County.
They produced a devastating display of counter-attacking football in Dingwall, as they did in the win at Pittodrie in August.
"I don't set the team out to go and counter attack," McNamara added. "I set them out to play, but it was the way the game worked out that day.
"We were clinical. They made a mistake for our first goal and we punished them - then it suited us to go and pick them off after that."