Captain Andrew Strauss says England have gone from "the hunter to the hunted" following their rise to number one in the world Test rankings.
England beat India 4-0 to reach top spot and they next face winter Test series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Home Tests against West Indies and South Africa follow in May and July.
"The next 12 months will be the biggest test we've had yet, it's a different mindset being the hunted rather than the hunters," said Strauss.
"We'll have to retain that desperate desire to improve if we want to stay on top.
"It's an exciting time for us. I'm certainly very excited about it, but we don't underestimate the size of the challenge.
"There are a lot of teams below us who want to knock us off our perch."
England are playing Pakistan in a three-Test series on neutral soil in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in January.
It will be the first time the sides have met since three Pakistan cricketers were jailed for spot-fixing during a Lord's Test in 2010.
Strauss is determined to look forward to the challenge ahead, rather than back at what has been.
"It will be a keenly contested series, as they always are, and the focus will be on the cricket," he said.
"It is an opportunity to move on and that's the right way to go."
A two-Test series in Sri Lanka follows in March before England welcome West Indies and South Africa for three-Test series in the summer - and Strauss expects them both to provide a stern test.
"We've seen a resurgence in West Indies cricket in recent times, so that will be a challenge for us," he said.
"Hopefully early-season conditions will suit us more than them.
"And we all know about the qualities of South Africa, they've just finished an outstanding series against Australia.
"They have a very good bowling attack and their record here is very good.
"They'll definitely be one of those teams looking to knock us off our perch and they'll be one of our bigger undertakings in the next 12 to 18 months."