ALESSANDRO Del Piero is confident Sydney FC have improved but has stopped short of declaring the Sky Blues are capable of claiming a third A-League title this season.
The Italian maestro was superb for Sky Blues last season but his efforts were not enough to drag the glamour club into the playoffs.
The 38-year-old expects his team to improve on their seventh-place finish this time around and is hungry for more success starting in Friday's season opener against Newcastle at Allianz Stadium.
"For sure our target is the playoffs but step by step and the first step for us is at home against Newcastle on Friday," Del Piero said at the A-League season launch on Tuesday.
"That's the only thing we're thinking about and we have to play good with heart and with passion and possibly win."
Asked if coach Frank Farina has assembled a team capable of winning another title, Del Piero was reluctant to heap pressure on his team-mates.
"I really don't know, only the field can answer," he said.
"For sure I think we've improved, we are better than last year, everyone says that and that's ok but the real answer is from the field, not from the voice."
Del Piero declared himself a certain starter against the Jets and says he's feeling fit after a painfully long off-season.
"I'm ok, I'm fit and I played 90 minutes in the last two pre-season games and I'm happy because the period between Japan and Italy in July helped a lot for me and the team to improve and get to know each other," he added.
"The pre-season is very long and I'm not happy about that but it's good, I trained a lot alone first of all and then between July and August I was with the team in Japan and Italy and then the last month we trained here (in Sydney).
"It's a very long one and I think not only me but every player is happy the season is starting this week."
Meanwhile, FFA boss David Gallop says the fact Del Piero and fellow marquee men Shinji Ono (Wanderers) and Emile Heskey (Jets) have signed on for another season is a strong endorsement of the A-League.
"Well they certainly came in with big reputations and they lived up to those reputations last season," Gallop said.
"It was a huge vote of confidence in our competition by them to come back for a second season so I'm expecting them to do well."
Asked tongue in cheek whether Sonny Bill Williams, Buddy Franklin or Del Piero will be a bigger drawcard in Sydney, the former NRL chief executive replied: "It's too hard to say that one but Alessandro was fantastic last season and for him to come back for a second season, we're really delighted."