Paul Cook told Plymouth: You’re not our enemy.
But the Pompey boss admitted his men are driven by the desire to knock the League Two leaders off their perch at the top of the table.
Cook’s side travel to Home Park tomorrow as battle between the two sides recommences once again.
A rivalry has grown between the clubs across four clashes last season, culminating in the Pilgrims’ play-off semi-final success in May.
Cook stated there is no feud, but Derek Adams’ side currently have a status his men believe they are worthy of.
‘Plymouth are a good side. They are not our enemy,’ said the Pompey boss.
‘Every club has teams they supposedly don’t like and rivalries build up.
‘There’s nothing personal against Plymouth, though. Plymouth are Plymouth.
‘Rivalries are healthy. Our fans will travel down there, enjoy the build-up and it will be a good atmosphere.
‘Plymouth are top of the league. They’re top because, to date, they’re the best team.
‘But we’re 12 games in and we have a belief that we’re the best team in the league.
‘If we are going to be the best team we’ve got a few places to climb. This is the next game in that pursuit.
‘One of the reasons for the rivalry is because they’ve got the upper hand at the minute.
‘The reality is we want to be the best team in the league and want to be top.
‘They are top and they’ve got something we want.’
Cook admitted he’s still pained by the memory of his side’s play-off semi-final stoppage-time loss at Home Park back in May.
But he is using that hurt as inspiration for a game he feels is shaping up to be another fascinating showdown.
‘You are hurting, but those are the disappointments which drive you on,’ said Cook.
‘We are 12 games into this season. If anyone can say they are over it they are a better man than me.
‘Games against Plymouth have taken a similar path in how they hurt us and how we believe we’ll hurt them.
‘The play-off game at home, even at the time, people were saying what a game. It wasn’t for me – we never won.
‘When you dominate a team like we did, particularly in the latter stages, you have to win – especially in the play-offs.
‘That’s gone and it’s all history now. I’m sure Plymouth will have their own demons from Wembley.
‘It’s all about using them to inspire your team to be in the kind of place where they are.
‘I think I know how the game will go. I have a belief I know.
‘That’s between Derek’s and my own tactics, and how the game should be played.
‘They will have a belief in how they are going to win the game, and we will have a belief in how we will win.
‘When we are involved in these games we’re good.
‘It takes two teams to be involved in a good game.
‘We’ll certainly be one of the teams and, for me, Plymouth fit the bill as the other one.’