The Reds struggled during 2007, winning just two games and picking up the dreaded wooden spoon under the guidance of former Australia coach Eddie Jones.
And Mooney, who took the reins from Jones on a three-year contract, will not settle for anything less than a top-four finish from his side in 2008.
"We are certainly going out there to make the semis," Mooney said.
"It's a bit of a cop-out to sit there and say we're re-building and it's a three-year plan or whatever because that gives people an excuse.
"We've got to win back respect from opposition teams and we've got to win back respect from the people who pay to come and watch us every week.
"We're certainly working as hard as we can to be as good as we can."
The Brisbane-based side have strengthened during the off-season with Wallabies centre Morgan Turinui, one-Test winger Digby Ioane and former NSW Waratah Chris Siale.
The three new signings will add depth to the Reds' backline, and Mooney is confident the trio can fit in well at their new club.
"They've settled in really well," Mooney said.
"With Digby the transition into the team hasn't been that [difficult] because he comes from up here (Brisbane) and he's played a lot of footy with the boys.
"The change in scenery has been terrific for Morgan. Physically he's in good nick and he's been working really hard.
"Chris Siale has been there or thereabouts with the Waratahs and did really well in the ARC (Australian Rugby Championship).
"He's been a real breath of fresh air with his enthusiasm and hasn't missed a beat at training."