"If you don't win the competition you've got catching up to do," he said. "It's that simple. If that happens then you have work to do to catch up. Last year we went out in dubious circumstances... hopefully we can improve this season. Last year we improved on the season before that and hopefully we can improve again.
"The Germans did well last year, the Spanish sides before that. It goes in cycles and hopefully we can start the cycle this season.
"It probably focuses you a bit more when you have a tough group. You don't get the chance to rest people, for example. The competition is so competitive and the players are so good and the desire to get into the next stage is so high. Each year you want to qualify for the knockout stage."
Ferdinand sat beside David Moyes at the press briefing and his manager praised the 34-year-old defender's displays so far this season. Rio attributes his form and fitness to an intense pre-season programme.
"I feel good," he added. "This pre-season we've had has been a really strong, solid base to work from. It gives us that base to go up to Christmas and the New Year. The [new coaching staff] came in and have worked us really hard. Now I want to get a run of games. Physically I feel good and I just want to continue making sure my pre-game and recuperation is all right."