It was the former Reading manager Steve Coppell who, two years ago, famously insisted there was no such thing as second-season syndrome. Unfortunately, his team went on to be relegated from the Premier League at the end of their second season.
The Stoke City manager, Tony Pulis, is under no such illusions. Having guided the club to 12th in their first season in the top flight for 23 years last May he is on his guard for what the immediate future may hold. "If you look at the records, it is there. Only two promoted clubs have achieved better points tallies than the previous season," he said after Stoke recorded their first three of the new campaign at the Britannia Stadium against one of this season's newcomers.
"The Premier League has been going for 17 years so that's a hell of lot of clubs have failed to do that. I've set the players two targets. The first is to stay up again and the second is to get more points than last season."
Burnley's more immediate concern is first-season syndrome. They found, on the opening day, that it is not enough simply to play neat football and look pleasing on the eye.
Their League survival will hinge on their ability to avoid giving away the type of soft goals from set-pieces which enabled Stoke to saunter into a commanding half-time position thanks to a Ryan Shawcross header and a Stephen Jordan own goal.
Since Owen Coyle's team now face Manchester United at Turf Moor on Wednesday and then Everton, Chelsea and Liverpool, there is a chance they may not have added to their points tally when they meet Sunderland at home in mid-September. It is daunting, but Clarke Carlisle (left) says Burnley hearts will stay strong. "This is going to be a very steep learning curve for us," he said. "But this is where you want to be, plying your trade against the best players in the world so it's no good shirking these games when they come round thick and fast.
"We will be looking to make Turf Moor a fortress. We know going there will be a big change for a lot of teams, a culture shock, and we have got to capitalise on that."
Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Wilkinson, Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham; Lawrence, Delap, Whitehead, Etherington (Whelan 76); Beattie (Kitson 67), Fuller (Cresswell 86). Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Griffin, Cort, Pugh.
Burnley (4-1-3-2): Jensen; Mears, Carlisle, Jordan, Kalvenes; Alexander (Thompson 82,); Blake (Eagles 72,), McCann, Elliott; Fletcher, Paterson (Guerrero 72,). Substitutes not used: Penny, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Eckersley.
Referee: S Bennett (Kent).
Booked: Stoke City Faye; Burnley Mears, Jordan.
Man of the match: Faye.
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