Brendan Rodgers marks his 50th match as Liverpool manager on Sunday knowing his work in returning the club to Europe's elite has barely started.
With five games remaining his side are only two points shy of last year's tally for the entire campaign and are closer to the top four (10 points) than when they finished last season 17 adrift.
But inconsistency has dogged the side all season, highlighted by successive goalless draws against West Ham and Reading coming immediately after a win over Aston Villa preceded by defeat to Southampton.
Big-spending Chelsea visit Anfield on Sunday and will provide an indicator of how much further Rodgers has to progress his side.
"I am very hopeful we can meet the challenge going forward and we can try to be a consistent team to get into those top four places," he said.
"But it is a big ask and you only have to look at Chelsea themselves.
"They finished sixth in the league last season and they had a net spend of over £71million in the summer in order to try to get back into that top four.
"When you look at the other teams around that (the top four) it is a big ask for us.
"It is an ongoing process. I've signed here for three years and I would hope from the first day I came in until the final day I leave we will be in a better position.
"But I don't think you can put a timeline on it. Without that lightning bolt of investment you have to build and coach your way towards it and mould the team.
"Unfortunately that doesn't happen overnight but I'm not crying for time, it is just the reality of the club.
"If I was here for three years and was replaced the process would be ongoing - but I would hope during my time here we can go very close to it (regaining Champions League status) if not arrive in there."
Sunday also marks Rafael Benitez's first return to Anfield as an opposing manager.
While he is revered by Reds fans he is viewed with disdain by many Chelsea supporters, who have never warmed to their interim manager following the dismissal of Roberto di Matteo.
Against a background of dissent the Spaniard has kept his side in the top four and Rodgers can admire the work his opposite number has done in maintaining a steady ship.
"I am not so sure it has changed. After nine games they were top of the league, after 12 games Roberto di Matteo lost his job," he said.
"Tactically they are probably a bit more defensive, playing with lines tighter together, and on the counter-attack.
"But what they have is top players so nothing has changed, they will still be a force and they are in third place in the league.
"It was a difficult job to go into and to be fair he has been very professional in his approach when sometimes the world has seemed to be against him.
"He is focused on his job and football is his life."
Liverpool are unbeaten in the last five league meetings since Chelsea won 2-0 at Anfield in May 2010 and while games against the Londoners always produce a certain edge Rodgers does not see that as the reason for firing up his team.
"It is not really the motivation, it is the commitment to what we are trying to do," he said.
"It is very important for us to finish the season as strongly as we can and win our remaining games.
"Sunday's game provides us with a big challenge against the current European champions.
"For the early part of the season they were at the top of the league so we understand the task.
"In the main in the big games this year we may not have had the results but performances have been very good and we hope we can continue with that."