The former Celtic boss could do little to prevent Newcastle stealing the plaudits last season as they claimed a UEFA Europa League spot, as well as an impressive fifth-place finish.
"If it hasn't upped the ante, it certainly should do," said O'Neill.
"It was a great season for Newcastle. It might have been unexpected in some quarters, but they signed some very good players and it worked out brilliantly for them.
"It was a really great season. And, of course, that's something that we want to emulate as quickly as we possibly can.
"But it's easier said than done.
"We made some progress last season but the Everton FA Cup defeat probably served as a reality check after we had played so well against the eventual champions Manchester City."