Manor sporting director Graham Lowdon says his team "could have turned a few heads" this year had it not had to stop developing its 2015 car.
The team went into administration near the end of the 2014 season and missed the final three races of the year before a last-minute rescue deal meant it could enter the 2015 campaign.
Marussia, the team's former guise, had finished in ninth place in the standings last year, ahead of Caterham and Sauber.
Manor traveled to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix with an updated version of its 2014 car, but did not manage to run at all.
Having seen the performance of its rivals in the first race, Lowdon believes the team could have impressed people had it not had to stop developing the 2015 car.
He admits it will now hard to work very hard to catch up.
"We were very advanced on the new car, the 2015 car, which now we've had the chance to see where the opposition are, we could have turned a few heads this year if we hadn't had to stop," Lowdon told the BBC.
"There's been a gap now in our progress and we need to catch it up again."
Lowdon insisted Manor will be in a very different situation when it arrives in Malaysia for the second race of the season, where the team is aiming to compete after not turning a wheel in Melbourne.
"It was always going to be a bit of a struggle," he said.
"If everything had gone smoothly it wouldn't have been a problem, but life is not like that, and so we faced some reasonably small problems, but when you are up against unmovable time scales then small becomes very visible and no one is going to allow us to race on Monday.
"So we missed the chance to show what we can do but I'm sure we'll be in a much better position by the time we get to Kuala Lumpur."