Martin O'Neill believes big-spending Manchester City should be considered among the favourites to claim this season's Barclays Premier League title.
Fuelled by the wealth of owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Eastlands club have already brought in Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor this summer.
Defender Kolo Toure is expected to follow from Arsenal, while it seems certain manager Mark Hughes will add to his squad further before the closure of the transfer window.
O'Neill's Aston Villa team are one of those expected to be overhauled by City.
But, far from expressing bitterness at the shift in power, the Northern Irishman has revealed his excitement at events in Manchester, and believes Hughes' men should now be placed alongside city rivals United, Liverpool and Chelsea as genuine title challengers.
"This Manchester City side is going to be so, so strong that they can withstand anything," O'Neill said.
"City might not be favourites to win the league but they should be. If Toure comes - and they still haven't stopped spending - they have as good a chance as anyone of winning it.
"This situation at City reminds me of Chelsea about five years ago - you can have great success if you can accumulate a group of top-quality players over a short period of time.
"There's part of me that's actually quite excited to see how they will do. It's as if the Premier League has been reinvented."
O'Neill does, however, admit that his attempts to break into the top four are likely to be rendered unsuccessful by City's splurge.
"I'm deflated by it," he added.
"You think, 'Well, you got quite close last year and suddenly another club has just stepped over you'. It kind of punctures you. I'm sure if you asked David Moyes at Everton he would think the same.
"I would say the top four has become a genuine top five. They're even seemingly putting it beyond the sides who would be competing within the top four."