The Socceroos made a poor start to the continental championship four years ago, when they stumbled to a draw with Oman before losing to eventual winners Iraq. They squeezed through to the knock-out stages by thrashing Thailand 4-0, but went out on penalties to Japan in the quarters.
But they had "no excuses" this time, Neill said, with a fully fit squad "raring to go".
"India will be a little bit of a surprise package but we'll be concentrating on ourselves and we hope that we can break through early," said the 32-year-old. "We have got to put them under pressure. Everyone is expecting us to win but football can throw up surprises and we have to be sure we are not the surprise. I hope the surprises come somewhere else."
"The important thing is that we win and put ourselves in a position to beat South Korea, and if we win that game then we can win the group," Neill continued. "India are a surprise package to us. We know a few names and I'm sure they'll be better known after the tournament, but we won't be allowing them to gain their reputations against us. Hopefully they do that after the game against us."
Australia's German coach Holger Osieck has been trying to play down their chances, but Neill acknowledged the pressure was on.
"The expectation is to go further than last time but first we are going to focus on India and we're not worrying about reaching the final," he said. "It's exciting to be here and we have got to be in contention."
"Hopefully Bahrain and South Korea cause each other problems. If we win our first game then we know exactly what is expected in the next two games," Neill added.