Alan Pardew admitted that Hammers will go into next week's FA Cup semi-final as underdogs after their 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough, but is still confident that his side can pull off a memorable triumph.
After goals from Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink and Massimo Maccarone had sealed victory in the dress rehearsal for Sunday's eagerly-awaited clash between the two sides at Villa Park, the Hammers boss claimed that Steve McClaren's men will be favourites to progress to the final.
"I thought the better team won today," said Pards, "and, looking at their squad, you have to say they are the favourites for Sunday.
"In terms of investment and how they are established in the Premiership, Middlesbrough are much further down the line than we are.
"Today we didn't have a full strength team, there is no doubt about that, but we can't go into Sundays game as anything other than underdogs.
"We've got it all to do, but we can do it. We've proved this season that we can face teams like Middlesbrough and win."
Pards admitted that he will be sweating on the fitness of influential defender Danny Gabbidon, who limped off with a groin injury in the closing stages today, but insisted that his team will approach the game in a confident and positive frame of mind - and completely prepared.
"Danny is touch and go for Sunday but I think everyone else will be okay," he said. "For my part, I will just let my players recover and then see what we've got next Friday and Saturday.
"We are going to put in a lot of detailed planning this week. We will be more prepared for this game than any league game because we've got a little bit more time. So I can assure our fans that there will be no stone unturned in terms of preparing the side.
"We are looking forward to Sunday, the fans are going to turn up in their numbers and make a lot of noise, and we'll show the spirit we have got. Hopefully that will be enough to take us to the final."