Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray says it is too early to consider promotion despite an unbeaten start to the Championship season.
Boro are joint-top with Southampton and Derby County having taken 19 points from nine games, and test their 100% away record at Reading on Saturday.
"After nine games it's great to give ourselves a platform, but no more than that," Mowbray told BBC Tees.
"It's just an accumulation of points that all add up to where you finish."
Mowbray added: "So many things can happen in the winter, pitches get heavy, players get injured, players pull muscles, your squad looks a little more depleted.
"Let's see how we come through that. I talked early season about depth of squad and I told the players that we would have a few disappointed players early on, but the squad will get tested through the winter.
"If you're in there at Christmas you've given yourself a platform to push on into the second half of the season."
The cornerstone of Middlesbrough's rise up the Championship has been their defensive form, with just five goals conceded in nine games, and four clean sheets for on-loan goalkeeper .
"I'd rather we had scored a goal in each of our two home games, the extra four points would have been nice," Mowbray continued.
"But clean sheets are important for any team, it's a foundation for any team to build success on."
BBC Tees has exclusive commentary of every Middlesbrough game on 95FM.