Manchester City's Micah Richards believes Roberto Mancini's big-spenders have "shut a few people up" by reaching the Champions League.
City's phenomenal rise into Europe's elite has attracted plenty of negative coverage, with their fiercest critics particularly annoyed by the huge amounts of money that have been spent on the team.
But if City can beat Stoke in Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley, not only will they have gatecrashed the top four, they will have ended a 35-year wait for a major trophy.
For Richards, who joined the Blues as a youth-team player, it is the stuff of dreams and the perfect response to those who seek to talk them down.
"It has shut a few people up," he said. "We always wanted to answer the critics.
"We have invested in some quality players who have shown what they can do.
"Hopefully we can do a bit more shopping in the summer to make us an even better team."
That seems highly likely, although first there may have to be a few sales to keep City within the parameters of UEFA's new financial fair play regulations, which come into force next season.
Chief executive Garry Cook and chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak are the men who must wrestle with that problem.
For Richards, it is all about making the most from such unexpected opportunities.
"I relish every moment," he said. "When I made my England debut I always thought these things would follow but sometimes you do have to pinch yourself.
"But I believe in my ability and do think I deserve to play at the highest level. I just have to take it in my stride."
Richards clearly has the type of game Mancini likes and has kept Jerome Boateng out of the City team for long periods this season.
But he accepts the Champions League represents an altogether different challenge to the Premier League - and he will need to be ready.
"It is top level," he said. "It separates the men from the boys.
"But we have some really good players here and an excellent team spirit, no matter how much people may question it.
"We are more excited than anything to be a part of the Champions League."