Pardew's men were thrashed 4-0 at City's Etihad Stadium to open the 2013-14 term, before rebounding to finish in 10th despite a horrid finish to the season.
Ahead of their hosting of the Premier League champions at St James' Park on Sunday, Pardew said he feels more comfortable with where the squad sits.
Pardew said the uncertainty around Yohan Cabaye last close-season - the Frenchman refused to play, before departing for PSG - cost the Tyneside club early momentum.
"The difference now is we're much more settled," Pardew said.
"The disruption of that [Cabaye] unsettled us, and we lost a player [Steven Taylor] in the first half, which is maybe a consequence of the frustration we were all sharing.
"We have a new-found sense of belief now and players grow when they see new signings. If you see more quality around, you feel more confident."
Pardew also hailed much-maligned owner Mike Ashley, who he said has provided him with the support that has led the 53-year-old to be the second-longest serving manager in the current crop of Premier League teams.
"When I signed the new contract, Mike always knew there would be ups and downs for both of us," Pardew said.
"He stood by me and this feels like an up time for me. He's armed me again. He's stood by me.
"One thing I can always give him is honesty on where we are and he listens – that's why so many players have entered the building. We needed them.
"It's that kind of relationship you can only hope for as a Premier League manager, and I'm lucky enough to have it. I hope I can repay him this season."
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