City were 3-1 winners at the Riverside in July when Britt Assombalonga netted a late consolation goal in what was a comprehensive defeat.

“They beat us easily last season but we’re a different team,” said the boss.

“They didn’t have to break sweat and it was so one-sided, and I’m expecting us to give them a better game.

“They were very good that day and they’ve improved their squad with two or three players. But I think we’re a better side now than we were then.”

City dropped their first points of the season last weekend when they were held to a 2-2 draw at Barnsley after the hosts equalised deep into stoppage time.

Boro picked up a point against City’s table topping rivals Reading at the Riverside, and Warnock says Tuesday’s game will be another tough test.

“It’s top of the league again so it’s a good challenge,” said the boss.

“These are the type of teams we need to play against to see how far away we are.

“We’ve got to be solid at the back, and we’ve done well this season. We have conceded some goals we weren’t happy with but overall we’ve done well, and I think the players are enjoying it and what we’re doing.”

The Boro squad face a demanding week in teams of both opponents and games, with Tuesday’s trip to Bristol followed by a weekend trek to Cardiff City.

“It’s two of our longest trips of the season and both within a matter of a few days,” added the boss. “I can’t say we’re happy about it but you have to get on.

“We’ll do a bit of work on the morning of the game at Bristol and we’ll get the chance to do a bit more at the back end of the week before Cardiff, but we’ll be spending the biggest part of this week travelling.”

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