Pep Guardiola vowed Manchester City would not surrender in the Premier League title race despite falling 14 points behind leaders Liverpool.
A 2-1 home defeat to neighbours Manchester United leaves City not only adrift of Jurgen Klopp's pace-setters but also three points shy of second-placed Leicester City, who have a game in hand.
City must string together victory after victory and hope for a Liverpool collapse to stand any hope of defending their crown.
Although a City charge to glory is unlikely, manager Guardiola is not giving up hope - but nor does he want to become overly occupied by the situation.
"It's not time to think about [the title race]," Guardiola told Sky Sports.
"We have to think about what we have to do and think about the next game. It doesn't matter if it's six points, eight or 14, we have to continue. We are a fantastic team."
City were swamped by United's attacking waves in the first half-hour at the Etihad Stadium, where a tormented home crowd saw their side concede a Marcus Rashford penalty and a precise Anthony Martial strike.
Rashford missed one good chance and struck the bar, while Jesse Lingard and Martial also could have added to United's early haul.
The visitors were as impressive in that period as City were abject, yet Guardiola stood up for his players, who improved as the game went on.
Nicolas Otamendi headed City back into it with five minutes of regulation time to play, and moments later, Riyad Mahrez drew a fine save from David de Gea.
Former Barcelona coach Guardiola said: "We conceded three or four counter-attacks during the first half. They were clinical.
"I am more than happy with our performance. We pushed them, we created chances. In general, I am happy with the performance. There are regrets.
"I know who we are as a team. I am delighted to work with these guys. We tried and tried in the second half. Unfortunately, we scored late and could not turn the result."