ASTON VILLA boss Paul Lambert has described the Britannia Stadium as a 'great place to play' ahead of tomorrow's 2014/15 season opener.
The Scotsman leads his side into the game eager to erase memories of the Potters first league double over the Villans in almost half a century last term.
A 2-1 triumph in the Potteries was followed by an emphatic 4-1 triumph at Villa Park back in March, with Mark Hughes' side producing arguably their most impressive showing of the campaign.
"It's a great atmosphere for football - it's a good place to play," he told their official website at Thursday afternoon's pre-match press conference.
"If you don't enjoy going to these places, there's something wrong. We will be ready for it. Every game is tough in this league, extremely tough.
"They (Stoke City) did great last season. They had the nucleus there and they have added to it really well.
"They play slightly differently from years gone by but it's a tough game with a good atmosphere."
Despite being labelled as one of the favourites for relegation down to the Championship, Lambert says he and the players are in good spirits coming into the opening day of the season.
You always go into a season in optimistic mood. You always do - regardless of where you finish the previous season.
"I am sure our crowd will be looking forward to the season on the back of the World Cup. It gives you that impetus - you want to see football again.
"We will do everything we can to improve - we have to improve on what we did last season. That goes without saying.
"We have a lot stronger squad this season, you can sense it. We're looking forward to the season."