Thomas Tuchel never felt Chelsea had a "huge gap" to Tottenham before seven months in which the clubs appeared to travel in opposite directions.
Chelsea won all four meetings with Spurs in all competitions last season without conceding.
Indeed, the Blues are unbeaten in seven against their London rivals in the Premier League, with Tottenham having won only one of their past 37 trips to Stamford Bridge in all competitions.
Spurs coach Antonio Conte said after a 2-0 Chelsea win in the EFL Cup semi-finals that Tuchel's men were "much stronger than us".
"This game confirmed what I thought about the difference between the teams," he added.
However, since then Tottenham have joined Chelsea in qualifying for the Champions League and enjoyed an excellent transfer window.
Having beaten Southampton 4-1 on the opening day of the season, Conte's side head into the second weekend on top of the table; in 2022, they have earned the third-most points in the division (44) behind Liverpool (52) and Manchester City (46), with Chelsea sixth in that regard (35).
Conte's January comments were put to Tuchel on Friday then, before the teams' latest meeting, and the Chelsea coach was asked to reflect on how the situation had changed.
But Tuchel argued his team had only dominated Spurs due to their commitment and performance in those matches – and he suggested Conte's analysis should be taken with a pinch of salt.
"I never felt a huge gap in preparing these matches," Tuchel said before Sunday's game at Stamford Bridge. "They are close matches, and they are a very competitive and very talented squad.
"I know very well what we invested and to what level we played to beat them four times and not concede a goal against this quality team in an emotional game in London that means for everybody so much.
"This was a huge effort and a big performance from us.
"In general, I don't believe everything Antonio Conte says in games like this, before games and after games.
"I admire him a lot and believe strongly that every team he trains competes for everything, no matter which team it is and what club it is. This is what he proves right now.
"They had maybe the opposite last seven months from us, given the situation.
"Everything was clear; they had something very clear to fight for, they put all the energy in to reach Champions League football and they reached Champions League football.
"Their targets were clear, the set-up in the club was clear, and they took advantage of this situation and had a very aggressive transfer period, a very straightforward and excellent transfer period to strengthen their squad in quality and in depth.
"That's why it's one of the toughest opponents. That's what it is always with Antonio Conte's teams."
Tuchel would not reveal his "secret" to keeping Harry Kane and Son Heung-min quiet, but he openly discussed how a heatwave in the United Kingdom might impact the match.
"It is demanding," he said. "It is more demanding – we see clearly from the data that the same training exercise in a different condition has a very different output and a very different effect on how you feel.
"It is maybe also a matter of how much you want it and how much you accept it.
"It will feel at times maybe very, very difficult and very draining. It is also a question of who has the ability, the will to play through the pain."