Stephen Bywater is convinced the foundations are in place for Doncaster Rovers to push for promotion next season.
And he says more familiarity is likely to breed more success.
Bywater, 33, regards this season as a failure having targeted an instant return to the Championship following his short term move from Millwall in January.
But the former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper reckons Rovers are well placed to challenge next term and says the club will benefit from a stable summer.
“We’ve missed a lot of chances and sometimes we haven’t defended right as a team,” said Bywater, reflecting on Rovers’ campaign.
“But if you look at the teams that are at the top they’ve played together for a number of seasons.
“I don’t think the gaffer here has had the team that he wants for two consecutive seasons.
“The people that play together for a good few seasons, like MK Dons and Preston, they’re slick operators aren’t they?
“I think that bond and that togetherness, and the consistency of playing together year after year, that’s what gets you up there from the start.”
Looking ahead to next season, Bywater went on: “The teams that come down from the Championship aren’t going to find it easy.
“And the teams that come up from League Two won’t have an easy season either.
“It’ll be the same again next year. It’ll be wide open, exciting, and there’ll be some teams that surprise other teams with the way they play.
“But, like I say, if you get a team together for a good couple of seasons you’ve got half a chance, because everyone knows what everyone is doing.
“Bristol City have been on a roll this season but they’ve got a big squad,” he added.
“I’m sure they spent a bit of money and their budget’s a lot bigger than other clubs. The same can be said of MK Dons and Preston. But just because you’ve got a big budget doesn’t mean you’ve got a good squad of players.
“I believe this club will be right up there next season. The foundations are all in place.”
Out of contract Bywater hopes to have done enough to earn a new deal at Rovers.
“I’d like to stay because I believe the gaffer will do well here next season,” he said.
“He’s going to have a good squad next year of hungry people with the young lads coming through.
“If I have the option, I’ll stay. I think this is a Championship club, everything is set up for it.”