Jimmy Case thinks Brighton & Hove Albion could challenge Southampton for South Coast bragging rights this season.
The Saints have not failed to finish below any of their local rivals since the 2010-11 season, when they were promoted alongside League One champions Brighton into the Championship.
The closest a South Coast club has come to finishing above The Saints was last season when Bournemouth finished below them on goal difference.
Brighton head into the local derby on Sunday at The AMEX Stadium knowing that a win can take them above the Saints having enjoyed a stellar return to the first division.
Ex-Southampton, Bournemouth and Brighton midfielder Case, who was part of the Seagulls side last time they were in the top-flight in the late eighties, said: “It’s very nice to see them in the top-flight after what they’ve been through."
Case returned to The Seagulls at the age of 39 for his second spell at the club before, managing them briefly when they struggling to stay in the Football League in the late nineties.
Case's time at both clubs
Case, most successful for his spell with Liverpool, had the pleasure of playing for both Southampton and Brighton and talked about his time at both clubs.
He revealed: "For several years, starting soon after I moved from Brighton to Saints in 1984, Brighton were against it."
Case admitted that it is "a bit strange" to see his three former clubs in the top flight together for the first time and talked about how Brighton fans still approach him about one thing.
He said: "Brighton supporters have been looking forward to this for a long time. I bumped into some the other day reminding me about my free-kick at Sheffield Wednesday in the 1983 FA Cup semi-final."
The former midfielder also discussed how tough his second spell at the club was, calling it "a horrendous time."
"It’s a similar story to Bournemouth, whose facilities now are out of this world," he said. "When I was there they didn't have much more than a lawnmower. Playing at Gillingham - after their [Goldstone] ground was sold with nowhere for the club to go - was bad enough for Brighton."
Case also discussed the 10 tough years Brighton experienced after that, at the Withdean Stadium, which he said "wasn’t adequate at all" before adding that they have now "grown in stature" to be at the AMEX Stadium as a Premier League club.
The Seagulls are now averaging crowds of more than 30,000 in their debut Premier League campaign, more than double their average top-flight attendance between 1979 and 1983.
Saints' visit will be a tough one with Brighton fresh off a morale-boosting 3-0 win at West Ham United last Friday to continue their fine start to the campaign.
This clash was developing into a feisty derby when the two clubs were in League One and the Championship together. Their last meeting six seasons ago, Saints’ only previous visit to the Amex, ended in a 3-0 defeat with both sides finishing with ten men.
Premier League survival will constitute a successful season for Brighton, but the Seagulls will potentially be targeting their highest-ever top-flight finish to top their 13th-placed finish of 1981-82.
Case feels that Brighton "have been a breath of fresh air" to the Premier League "as have Newcastle and Huddersfield, the other promoted clubs."
He explained: "They have a collective spirit under Chris Hughton and they defend well so there’s no reason why they can’t hold their own."
However Case is worried about his other former club Southampton heading into the game, insisting that they "aren’t creating enough" but hoped that they can "start getting some momentum" after their win over West Brom.
"They’ve played most of their games at home but will have more space away from St Mary’s. It will certainly be an interesting game on Sunday," Case stated.