Do not even mention it.

It's that word that starts with an 's'.

Maurizio Sarri doesn't want to hear it uttered. In fact he says it remains out of the team's vocabulary. Goalkeeper Pepe Reina recently joked that Sarri will kill him if he says it.

Club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis doesn't want to say "that little word" either. For the cinema tycoon, taking this team from bankruptcy to these heights in 12 years while impressively being the only Italian club to compete in Europe for the last six seasons he must surely be floating near cloud 9 these days.

For De Laurentiis, the thought of Napoli having a genuine chance of capturing their third Scudetto yes, that wicked word under a tactical mastermind like Sarri all while playing some of the best football in Serie A seems too good be to be true at the moment.

Despite the pair as well as the players not wanting to get too ahead of themselves, prominent football figures in the peninsula have come forward to both compliment the Partenopei's exciting brand of football produced under Sarri and back their title credentials.

This impressive cast ranges from Arrigo Sacchi to Marcello Lippi to Cesare Prandelli and others. However, Sarri says his dream would be a third-place finish, and right now that should be the minimum target for the club realistically speaking.

While referencing his side's fifth-place finish last season, albeit under then-coach Rafael Benitez, the Naples-born coach has urged his men to keep their feet on the ground.

The former bank manager's stern values in hard work on the training ground accompanied by Napoli's results so far this season have made club's supporters go head over heels for the 56-year-old.

Napoli Home Shirt 2015 - 2016Even Diego Maradona had to backtrack on his previous statements of the former Empoli tactician, asking for forgiveness after stating the club wouldn't win anything with Sarri at the helm.

However, analysing the club's title hopes, ultimately one falls back to the same Achilles' heel that has plagued Napoli for a good number of seasons now: the club have lacked the required mental fortitude to last an entire campaign, more so than anything than against the provinciali (mid-table clubs.)

There are a few reasons why the Neapolitans have found it difficult to record wins against weaker sides on paper in past years.

First off, the provinciali generally choose to stifle the opponent's attacking flair by sitting back and defending with 10 men behind the ball; this tactic offers little space for Napoli's crisp attack to orchestrate in between the channels and pick teams apart.

If the provinciali clubs choose to come out of their shell, they would simply be outclassed by the quality of the opposition more often than not. In these types of matches, a committed defensive display by a smaller team will afford opponents very few chances on goal, so opportunities must not be wasted.

Simply put, over the years Napoli have not been clinical enough in this regard when push comes to shove.

The Partenopei have particularly toiled and dropped points against these clubs in recent seasons: Udinese, Chievo, Atalanta with the latter known as Regina delle provinciali (queen of the provincial clubs) as well as Catania and Cagliari when they featured in Italy's top flight in season's past.

Napoli have more often than not failed to take all three points against the provinciali on the road, these same points that make the difference in the end. In the tense away atmospheres, the Partenopei have lacked the necessary grit and willpower to focus for the full 90 minutes.

This applies to both in front of goal and at the back, with comical errors under Walter Mazzarri and Benitez's watch all too familiar.

However, things have slowly begun to change under Sarri's guidance. The mental toughness required to grind out results is something we're slowly witnessing this season and if this trend continues then Napoli will remain as title contenders with each passing week.

Striker Gonzalo Higuain has been deadly in front of goal this term, dispatching both Chievo and Udinese with 1-0 scorelines. Although the club have recorded two scoreless draws away to Capri and Genoa, the first match occurred during their rough initial spell while the latter result could be attributed due to heavy fatigue from European play.

All in all, Napoli have been in terrific form since altering to a 4-3-3, winning 11 of 13 matches and outscoring opponents 33-3.

Sunday's match away to Hellas Verona presents another opportunity for Sarri's men to prove their title credentials in an atmosphere that has seen violence arise in the past between both club's sets of fans.

Will things be different this season? Will Sarri's workmanlike approach be enough to strengthen the club's mentality? We'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, the 's' word will not hear the sound of day in Naples.