ONE defeat in six matches at the start of the season has not exceeded expectations in the Derby County camp, says leading scorer Chris Martin.
Victories over Brighton and Yeovil plus a draw against Blackburn Rovers have seen the Rams collect seven points from 12.
They have also negotiated two rounds in the Capital One Cup and now face a third-round tie away to Leicester City.
Tomorrow (Saturday, August 31), Derby take on Burnley at Pride Park (3pm) knowing a win would send them into the two-week international break in healthy shape.
Martin puts the encouraging start down to preparation.
"We had a very good pre-season," said the striker. "We have got a good group here, all the lads are together and that can only help.
"Has our start exceeded expectations? I don't think so.
"I don't want people were thinking outside of the club - the press, or whoever - but in terms of the dressing room and the staff we felt we were more than capable of getting a good start.
"But it's OK making a good start, you need to keep that level of consistency and carry it on through the season.
"It is a long, hard season, 46 games. To get a good start is very good for the confidence but we know we are going to have to sustain it.
"The only disappointment so far was the first two home games against Blackburn and Leicester City, in terms of the results. We felt we deserved more than one point from the two games."
Martin says competition for places is also behind Derby's start.
He and Johnny Russell are currently the first-choice strike force, but Conor Sammon is pressing for a place in the side. Jamie Ward can also operate up front.
"The competition is certainly pushing me on," said Martin, who has scored five goals in five starts including two in the 5-0 victory over Brentford in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.
Sammon also hit a brace in what was only his second start of the season.
"I thought Conor gave a brilliant performance the other night," Martin added.
"He was a threat all game, and he got two well-taken goals.
"Every team that wants to be challenging at the right end of the table has to have competition for places in pretty much every position."
Derby are overdue a win against Burnley. Their last was in January 2007 when Steve Howard's early goal gave Billy Davies' team a 1-0 victory.
Burnley have won six of the last eight meetings including their last three visits to Pride Park.
Charlie Austin struck twice in Burnley's 2-1 victory here last season. His second proved to be an 89th-minute winner. Austin is now playing for Queen's Park Rangers.
Nigel Clough recalls the game. "It was especially galling to concede late on and lose the game because we didn't deserve that.
"Charlie Austin is not at Burnley now. He has stuck a few in against us, but Burnley still have a few threats.
"It is another tough Championship game, as they all are."
Burnley have the same number of points as Derby, seven, and have also progressed in the Capital One Cup by beating York and Preston.