TOTTENHAM boss Andre Villas-Boas believes he grew as a coach during his ill-fated nine-month spell as Chelsea manager.
The two London clubs meet at White Hart Lane tomorrow with Villas-Boas set to face his former employers for the first time since he was sacked in March.
And the 35-year-old is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.
"I'm going to see people who mean a lot to me, people who are part of my development as a coach," he said.
"I certainly feel I have become a better coach because of them. They have helped me a lot on my development of career. People who gave everything for me; obviously it is special to encounter any team you have played or belonged in the past."
Villas-Boas was in charge of Chelsea when John Terry was accused of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand last October.
The Blues skipper will miss the Spurs fixture after accepting his fine and ban which were handed out after he was found guilty by an Independent Football Association panel but Villas-Boas, who supported Terry at the time, maintains he was correct to do so.
"This is a long story full of events," he said. "So many different interpretations. So many governing bodies intervening. I made my stance towards my reading of the situation. But what I did in the past I continue to support."
Another player who will not play in the derby match at lunchtime tomorrow is Tottenham and England midfielder Scott Parker.
The 32-year-old has been struggling with an Achilles problem and Villas-Boas is expecting to be without the former Chelsea man until the festive period.
He said: "It's difficult for him as he still feels pain and is still disturbed in his recovery. It prevents him from being on the pitch but he has been evolving inside, in the gym, with the medical department.
"It is still within the limits of what we expected. He is making good progress and there has been less pain. It will take two or three weeks - We could be looking at Christmas. Hopefully less."
Current Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo worked under Villas-Boas at Stamford Bridge before replacing the Portuguese when he was sacked.
Di Matteo led the club to FA Cup success and their first ever European Cup but Villas-Boas reckons remaining unbeaten for a season, like Arsenal did in 2003/04 and his own Porto side did two years ago, is a harder task.
"Winning any league is extremely difficult but going through it unbeaten is also extremely difficult," he said. "The achievement that Arsenal did was remarkable and outstanding and probably won't be repeated in the modern game as it happened in Porto with me.
"There were games where we lived on the limit and certainly Arsenal did the same. It will be something extremely difficult to go past. Which is more difficult? Remaining unbeaten in the league."