AC Milan do not have a Champions League squad but Vincenzo Montella has so far been the difference in their bid to secure a top-three place, according to Alessandro Costacurta.
Former Fiorentina and Sampdoria coach Montella, who also had an interim spell in charge of Roma, has won eight of his first 12 Serie A games in charge, leading Milan to third in the table.
Costacurta, who won seven Serie A titles and the Champions League five times - twice under its guise of the European Cup - during a storied career at San Siro, believes Montella deserves considerable praise for the early results.
"What is responsible for this success? Montella, he's brought added value. With his culture of holding possession, he's raised the level of the team in terms of personality," Costacurta told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Before I saw a frenzy, now there's greater patience, there's no longer a continuous demand to release the ball.
"The recipe works, because it's not bringing wonders but simplicity. It seems to me the right way to go, since he doesn't have a quality squad.
"When you give precise direction, you reap the rewards.
"To be clear, this isn't a Champions League squad, there are others who are more set up for that.
"I'm thinking of Juventus, Roma and Napoli, who I consider to be better technically, physically and in terms of character.
"If you look at it on paper, it's utopian to think of Milan in the Champions League. However, I look back at my own experience, with [Alberto] Zaccheroni in 1998-99 when we were worthy of fourth or fifth place yet we won the Scudetto.
"We succeeded because we built a team, we understood each other as a group.
"Juventus, Roma and Napoli have stronger backups, but the lack of European commitments could play into Milan's hands.
"I'd say that they could do with a couple of signings though, and they both have to be experienced. They need a central defender and a regista [playmaker], because there are no alternatives to [Manuel] Locatelli.
"The real problem I see is in defence. Montella has several issues to solve at the back, because that's the least cohesive part of the team."