The Bucks ended a season to remember when they were officially crowned NPL champions despite defeat at Stalybridge.
But for Cunningham, who was speaking before announcing his resignation as boss on Thursday, that is just stage one of the long-term goal to take Buxton on to the next level.
“I have always said I am not in it to participate,” he said. Every season as a manager I have been involved in championship or a play-off and that won’t change next season.
“I stated early at Curzon that we would be a play-off team and everyone laughed at me but we were in the mix, and they still are.
“It proves the recruitment and mindset we created at the club was where it needed to be and people soon stop laughing.
The noises stop and people start to take you seriously. We have been planning weeks ago for both scenarios, that we were promoted or stayed in the division, so that we aren’t playing catch up.
We have got a talented squad that will need adding too, some of them that we want to keep might want to go elsewhere.
“There's lots of circumstances around recruitment, but we will freshen things up.
“We are there to challenge for play-off places and to make a noise.”
But Cunningham knows the club face a stiff challenge ahead and a massive step up in quality.
He added: “It's a major step up and a really difficult league. It is fast, it is powerful, it is pacey, it is a different level.
“That is what we have to be prepared for, every single game will be relentless and we have to be prepared in terms of squad depth and quality.
“We have to make sure we put the right pieces together to allow us to compete.
“We are not going to go in here and say we are going to win the league.
“It took Stockport six yeas to get out of that division, there are some major clubs in it.
“We have to make sure we go in with the right mindset, but we are not there to make the numbers up.
“We will be more than equipped to enjoy a season at that level.”
It is an exciting season ahead and one that Cunningham knows the fans are going to love.
“We have been in the NPL a long time and it will be exciting for the fans to go to grounds they have not been to before,” he said.
“They will see classic grounds with heritage like Hereford and impressive new stadiums like York and Boston. There are some real good grounds for the fans to enjoy.
“When fans come to us they will be impressed with what we are doing.
“We don't have four stands but there is character and a lot going on off the field to ensure we are moving forward.
“For the fans it is going to be a fantastic experience and we are delighted to be able to deliver it to them.”