MICHAEL SCHUMACHER believes this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix will sort the men out from the boys and the seven-times world champion is confident of emerging a front-runner.
There were times throughout the season-opening weekend at Albert Park in Melbourne when all the pre-season predictions regarding Mercedes were well founded.
The car appeared quick enough to challenge the might of Red Bull and McLaren, but when it came to flexing muscles in qualifying, Mercedes were still found wanting.
Nevertheless, fourth on the grid from Schumacher and seventh for team-mate Nico Rosberg still represented a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately for 43-year-old Schumacher, his race was shortlived as he retired on lap 11 with a gearbox problem, while Rosberg went on to drop out of the points on the last lap.
It meant that for only the fourth time in 39 grands prix since returning to the sport at the start of 2010, Mercedes finished the race without a point.
It would be a major surprise if that were to happen in Sepang on Sunday as the circuit requires power, one of Mercedes' strengths.
Certainly Schumacher is expecting the team to prove themselves in this season's pecking order and beyond.
“Sepang will be interesting for everybody because it will be the first clue to the real relative strengths of all the cars,” said Schumacher.
“The range of slow and fast corners give a good indication of where you are, which always makes the race in Malaysia fun for the drivers and engineers.
“Overall it is a big challenge for man and machine.
“I'm looking forward to it, despite the disappointment of how the first race turned out.
“I've a big sense of anticipation. We saw in Australia our car is capable of putting us in the mix.
“Of course, we haven't forgotten the circuit in Melbourne is not really representative of the true competitive picture.
“But nevertheless the car gives me a good feeling for the season ahead.”
The controversy surrounding Mercedes' innovative DRS-activated F-duct, a device that assists with straightline speed, further took the gloss off the opening weekend for team boss Ross Brawn.
FIA technical director Charlie Whiting is expected to issue a final directive ahead of the weekend, but for now it is heads down within Mercedes as they aim to prove themselves.
“Despite a positive start, our first race weekend of the season in Australia did not turn out as we would have wished,” said Brawn.
“There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of hard work done before we take to the track again in Malaysia.
“We have a fundamentally good car, now it is up to us to optimise its performance and achieve its potential on track.”