Aitor Karanka says that Sunderland must be respected ahead of Sunday's Wear-Tees derby (1.30pm).
It is the first meeting of the sides since 2012, and the first in the Premier League since 2009.
The Head Coach says Boro must be at their best to return to Teesside with the bragging rights.
"[Sunderland] have more experience than us," Karanka said.
"They were in the Premier League last season, and we were in the Championship.
"They have an amazing manager in David Moyes, and are playing at home.
"We will try to win the game but I cannot say that we are favourites."
A veteran of Spain's Clasico as both a player and an assistant manager at Real Madrid, Karanka is anticipating a new experience in his first derby game with Boro.
"This is more of a regional derby," he said.
"I expect it to be more like when I was a player at Athletic Bilbao, against Real Sociedad, Alaves, or Osasuna.
"I know how important this game is for everybody.
"It's a big weekend for the fans, because they have lived these kind of games in the past. For me, it's the first one.
"But we are at the beginning of the season and we have to add points as soon as possible.
"The season is long, and although it's a different game, we have to know that they are the same three points."
Karanka has identified Black Cats striker Jermain Defoe as a major threat for the hosts.
"We need to keep focus on him," the Head Coach said.
"You have to be concentrating 150%, for 95 minutes in the game.
"We need to know how good he is and know that he can't be alone in the box."
Reflecting on last Saturday's opening day draw against Stoke City, Karanka is pleased with the start his side have made to life in the Premier League.
"I was really pleased after analysing the game again," he said
"The first day of the season, the emotions, we were not at 100%.
"But the attitude and the intensity, even in the worst moments, was good.
"We can't forget that [Stoke] played up front with four or five amazing players. I can't remember a lot of chances for them.
"The main thing is that we are competing in the Premier League."