Fri, 03 Aug 2012 17:54:00 – The Hibees finished 11th in the SPL last season while United enjoyed a fourth-place finish, which was rewarded with the chance to secure European football for this campaign.
Hanlon, 22, reckons the match in Dundee could be tough, but is also hopeful that United's players suffer from weariness following their hard-fought 2-2 draw against Dinamo Moscow on Thursday night.
"It is always a tough game up at Tannadice but obviously with it being the first game of the season everyone is looking forward to it - we are desperate to get off to a good start," he said.
"If we can get the three points or even a point at Dundee United we will look upon that as a decent result and I'm looking forward to going up there and putting in a good performance.
"Maybe they will have a bit of tiredness in their legs from last night because it was a big game for them but they are 90 minutes ahead of us so either way we need to go up there and put in a performance for the fans coming with us."
The former Scotland Under-21 international is looking to continue to play a key role in Pat Fenlon's side, and is targeting an improvement on last season's lowly finish.
"I only missed two games last year so hopefully I can stay in the team every week and from a team point of view obviously get further up the table," he added.
"It was unacceptable that a club this size was down the bottom last year and we need to improve on that.
"The main thing for the club at this stage is to improve on last year, we can't be in a relegation battle at the end of the season so if we can get off to a good start we can push for the top six and that is something I'd be delighted with."
Financial constraints have meant Fenlon has been unable to replace all of the players who left Easter Road at the end of last season, but Hanlon believes the current squad have enough about them to challenge higher up the table.
"I think it is going to be a tighter-knit squad this year because we haven't got as many players," he said.
"The gaffer has added players with good quality so, like I said, hopefully we can get off to a good start and move on from there."