Miles Rutherford insists his Moneyfields side go into the derby against AFC Portchester at Dover Road as underdogs (3pm).
The boss regards his rivals as one of the Wessex League premier division’s heavyweights and realistic title contenders.
It is only the Royals’ second season in the competition’s top flight but the new kids on the block are making a big impact.
‘You have to admire the way Portchester are going about things,’ said Rutherford.
‘They have brought in some good football people with the likes of Mick Jenkins, Mick Marsh and Mark Poulton.
‘In Graham Rix they have an excellent manager.
‘With their playing budget they should be challenging at the top.
‘It is a shame another member of their staff referred to us as little more than a pub team the last time we played them.
‘That was disrespectful and unnecessary.
‘Maybe we have punched above our weight in recent years but to consistently finish in the top six on our limited resources is no mean feat.’
Royals boss Rix is expecting his team’s 16-game unbeaten run to come under pressure.
He accepts Dover Road is no easy place to go to but is backing his players.
‘It is important we play the match and not the occasion,’ said Rix.
‘It will be tough but I am looking for us to be determined and calm.’
New-look Horndean are aiming to keep their mini-revival going at Brockenhurst.
Manager Dave Carter has drafted in a number of new faces, including Hawks loanees Liam Gilbert and goalkeeper Charlie Searle.
George Way has joined from Bemerton, Zak McGregor from Hayling and Kev Pottage from Portchester.
Ex-Moneyfields defender Shaun Kerridge is also expected to make his debut.
‘We have won two on the bounce but Brockenhurst won’t be easy,’ said Carter.
‘I have brought in five or six new faces but we also have another five coming back from unavailability.’
Fareham Town face a daunting trip to powerful Winchester City as they look to avoid a fourth successive defeat.