City have been the biggest spenders in the Premier League so far this summer.
“United are taking our situation more seriously in terms of what we can do – and it’s not just them realising that,” said Hughes.
“Bizarrely, what is happening here can help United through us being capable of taking points off other top-four clubs – but we want to take points off United, too. When Sir Alex Ferguson talks about Liverpool being United’s main rivals, it’s because of the great success the two clubs have had.
“The rivalry is there because of what they have both achieved. Our rivalry with United is more of a local nature but I want to get back to the days when we are – challenging for the same trophies. I want to win any trophy because that would be a sign of progress.
“For instance, to win the Carling Cup would be great for us. I can remember what winning that meant to United three years ago. They beat Wigan in the final and it was the first thing they had won for a couple of years. It’s about putting silverware on the sideboard. And I know our fans want to see us have a cup run.
“I would love to take Manchester City to a final – that is one of my aims.”