Hart aims to keep pace with Chelsea
Joe Hart is determined to ensure Manchester City do not lose ground on Chelsea in the title race over Christmas.
After a difficult start to the season, City have turned a corner of late and are now just three points behind Jose Mourinho's men after a run of six straight league wins.
Manuel Pellegrini's team have a series of winnable fixtures against West Brom, Burnley and Sunderland over the next fortnight, but Hart does not want his team-mates to get complacent.
The painful memory of winning the Barclays Premier League trophy in 2012 and then handing it to bitter rivals Manchester United the following season is still fresh in Hart's memory and he does not want to relinquish the title again.
"I take my hat off to anyone who has retained a title because it's difficult," the Manchester City goalkeeper said.
"Winning the thing in the first place is really hard, you've got to be consistent, you've got to get through bad patches and you have to bounce back. We have to prove we've got everything we need.
"We failed last time and we don't want to do it again. We're all aware of what happened last time."
Chelsea held a seven-point lead over City last month but a draw against Sunderland and defeat at Newcastle reduced the gap to just one victory.
City moved level on points on Saturday after beating Crystal Palace 3-0, but the Blues showed their mettle at Stoke on Monday with a comfortable 2-0 win at the Britannia Stadium.
Hart thinks Chelsea will cede very little ground in the race for the summit from now until May.
"Chelsea are a strong team, they've got a strong manager and will do what they need to do," the England goalkeeper said.
"But I think they appreciate and totally expect us to push them. I don't think it's any surprise we're on their tails and we're not surprised that they're doing so well."
Hart's form has been key to City's recovery.
The England goalkeeper has not conceded a goal in his last four matches - a fact that convinced City to hand him a new four-and-a-half-year contract last week.
Just over 12 months ago Hart lost his place to Costel Pantilimon after a series of costly errors.
But Hart's troubles now feel like they happened a long time ago.
"I feel in a good place," the 27-year-old said.
"I feel I'm in a place where I should be and it's a level I want to keep.
"We're all aware that last season didn't go according to plan for a tiny bit of the season but that makes me a better goalkeeper. I'm coming to a good age now and really enjoying being here."
Summer signing Willy Caballero was supposed to challenge Hart for his first-team place, but the former Malaga man has only played one Premier League game.
Hart says the Argentinian has offered him great support since he moved to the Etihad Stadium.
"Willy has been great to me," Hart said.
"He's been a great professional and I think we appreciate in our squad that every player is important, on match day, on training day, I think we're all as important as each other and the manager stresses that. I think Willy is just as important as all of us."