Johnny Ertl believes Pompey are on track to achieve their ambitions this season.
The Blues have made a steady start to the new campaign and have taken 14 points from their first nine League Two games.
That leaves them just three points off a promotion place and one point off a play-off berth in 11th place in the table.
Some fans are disappointed by the start the team have made – especially after their flying form at the end of last term.
But it’s worth remembering they were languishing in 19th spot at the same stage last season with nine points, and the Pompey club captain believes it represents steady progress.
Ertl said: ‘I’d say the start we have made is about right in what we expected.
‘We’ve made some new signings and we’ve had a decent start.
‘But I think we are right on track.
‘Maybe some people thought we would walk this division but that’s not realistic.
‘You’ve got to see where we have come from as club.
‘Last season we had a difficult year and this season is the next step.
‘I’ve said from the beginning that it’s about taking it step by step.
‘This club is growing, getting things right behind the scenes with the training ground and everything else, but it takes some time.’
The Blues travel to struggling Hartlepool this weekend and victory would keep them well in touch with the early pace-setters.
But Pompey have yet to hit top gear this season and they showed last term that a run of results can fire them up the table quickly.
‘We are one point off the play-offs,’ said Ertl.
‘We’ve only played nine games and there is a long, long way to go this season.
‘We don’t need to make any judgements now. It’s only September.
‘We had that little blip but we have shown good character to come back from that.
‘I honestly think we will be there or thereabouts.’
The majority of Pompey fans have been realistic with their expectations this season as manager Andy Awford puts his stamp on the team and the club.
But most believe making the play-offs is a reasonable target as the Blues attempt to clamber out of the bottom division of the Football League.
Ertl added: ‘You have got to cope with that expectation here but I don’t think that’s too high.
‘That will always be here because this is a huge club.
‘We have to remember it’s about making progress as a club and it won’t happen overnight that we get promoted.
‘The first step is to give your best every game and improve as a team.
‘And I think that will happen more as the season goes on.
‘I think there are good signs.
‘When you fight back to get a draw after going behind, that shows that we are going in the right direction as a team.’