After a winter spent hearing their battle-cries, Nick Gubbins sees Surrey as the main obstacle in the way of Middlesex retaining the County Championship.
Gubbins was joined on England Lions duty in the UAE and Sri Lanka by the Surrey trio of Ben Foakes, Sam Curran and Tom Curran.
The opener revealed that the Brown Caps have their London rivals in their sights as the four-day season gets underway.
“It’s a really strong division which has been spoken about a lot,” he said.
“Surrey, our rivals, have got a very strong squad. I spent quite a lot of time with their blokes this winter.
“They’re gunning for us and we’re the ones to catch now. They’ve definitely got their eyes on us. They want a piece of the action after what we did last year.”
With the reduction in the number of four-day fixtures being played and the shrinking of the First Division into an eight team contest, this season’s Championship is set to be the most competitive yet.
Gubbins sees a couple of other frontrunners in a competitive field that he thinks can only be healthy for the game.
“You have to look at Hampshire, our first opponents, they’ve recruited really well this winter,” he said.
“On top of that, you have experienced teams like Warwickshire. Everyone can win it which is really good for English cricket.
“It’s great for young players like me to be able to play with the likes of Adam Voges for a full season, to play with and against international cricketers week in, week out.
“If you can’t step up to the international stuff after that, there’s not a lot more English cricket can do.”
On a personal level, Gubbins enjoyed a staggering summer with the bat in which he amassed 1409 runs at an average of 61.
The precocious 23 year-old is clear that he can’t expect to maintain that rate of production this year.
“I’m not looking to replicate last season at all,” he said.
“Essentially, that was an outstanding season. It’s more about stripping my game back and getting back to basics, looking at what I did well last year technically.
“I’ve kept a book about my batting, making notes every now and again and I’ll look back to what I wrote last April to make sure I get back to doing what I was doing.
“For top order batsmen it’s about facing as many balls in April because that’s the toughest time to bat.
“Get those under your belt, get a score in and get the team off to a good start.”