Lewis Hamilton insisted that the situation for Mercedes at Monaco is nowhere near as bad as it had been for the team 12 months ago.
Last year, Hamilton failed to make it through to the final round of qualifying. He ended up starting the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix from 13th place.
Although he fought his way back up the field, he could only manage seventh by the chequered flag. Sebastian Vettel won the race, giving the Ferrari driver a strong early lead in the championship standings.
Hamilton wants to avoid a repeat of that outcome, and is confident that a repeat of that slump for the Silver Arrows isn't on the cards again this weekend.
He was fourth fastest in Thursday's afternoon session, just under seven tenths slower than Daniel Ricciardo's best effort.
"We're in a much better place than we were last year," he said after the end of second practice. "We're closer to Red Bull and Ferrari than I expected. But we're still a few tenths off.
"I said yesterday the Red Bulls were going to be quick, which they were today.
"As expected, we struggled a little bit more. The car felt good in some places, in others it felt bad. So we have got some things to work on. But we're not completely in the dark.
"It's been an okay day. We didn't suffer any damage which is a good thing.
"We've got some ground to cover and pick up if we want to be in the fight for the win," he acknowledged. "We've got to keep working on the set-up and try and see if we can pull out some more potential from the car."
Hamilton was pleased with Pirelli's new pink-walled hypersoft tyre, which is making its race début this weekend and has already contributed to record-setting pace.
"The hypersoft felt good, but it doesn't last very long," he said. "It looks good for qualifying but could be interesting in the race."
Hamilton's comments about the new compound were endorsed by Mercedes; chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin.
"It's our first proper experience of the hypersoft tyre which is giving good grip on single laps," he said. "However needs a bit of looking after on the longer run.
"In terms of pace it's difficult to know where we stand today," Shovlin continued. "It does feel like Red Bull are the ones to watch in qualifying but we're in much better shape than we were this time last year
"We've certainly got a car that is behaving more normally!
"It's never easy to know how much to change for the final practice session," he added. "But if we can improve a few issues in certain corners we should be in decent shape for qualifying and the race, and be in a position to put some pressure on the others."