Pep Guardiola conceded wastefulness in front of goal is impacting on his Manchester City players mentally after they crashed to an abject 4-0 loss at Everton.
City hoarded possession during the first half, but, after Raheem Sterling had penalty appeals waved away, Romelu Lukaku scored from the hosts' only shot before half-time at Goodison Park.
Guardiola's men collapsed shambolically thereafter, a flaky defence cut to ribbons as Kevin Mirallas scored 62 second into the second period and teenagers Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman opened their Everton accounts during a raucous finale.
It meant the heaviest league defeat of Guardiola's illustrious coaching career and leaves City 10 points shy of Premier League leaders Chelsea.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss traced his side's woes back to the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium, where City missed two penalties in a 1-1 draw they dominated.
That was their first draw in the league this term after six wins and a solitary loss, but they have only won seven of the subsequent 13 top-flight fixtures.
"I love my players, I like to be their coach. I have to reflect on what happened for many days," Guardiola told Sky Sports.
"In the first half we made a good performance. We created enough to score a goal.
"We were not able to and they arrived once and scored. They scored straight after half-time and that is mentally so hard for the players.
"At 2-0 they defended with nine players behind and they used the counter attack.
"The result of the game is the consequence of many games that have happened this season."
Everton's contrastingly clinical return was four goals from as many attempts on target, with Guardiola's under-fire goalkeeper Claudio Bravo now having conceded from 14 of the past 22 shots he has faced.
"It is football. In football you sometimes don't need to do many things to score," Guardiola said.
"We were there many times – for the penalty [appeal], for the chance from David [Silva], for the chance from Ras [Sterling]. When they arrived, they scored.
"It is not today it is almost all the season and it is tough for the players to handle that situation.
"Of course we can do better. I suffer for my players."
Guardiola is now an unfamiliar distance from the title battle, having made league victories his stock in trade at Camp Nou and the Allianz Arena, but the two-time Champions League-winning coach seemed relaxed over his vastly altered reality.
He said: "It is an exceptional situation for seven years to always be there. It is normal to live these kind of situations sometimes.
"Like all the managers in the world, all the teams in the world we try to do our best.
"The only way I know, as an old football player and as a manager right now, is work harder."