Ilkay Gundogan insisted the Premier League title race was not over, although the midfielder accepted Manchester City were in an "uncomfortable" position.
The champions suffered a 3-1 loss to Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, falling nine points behind Jurgen Klopp's league leaders.
City claimed the title last season despite slipping seven points behind and Gundogan is retaining hope they can again rally.
"We have to accept it, but there is a long way to go. Last season in January we were quite far behind and able to turn it around," the midfielder said, via the Manchester Evening News.
"But we are not independent any more. We have to see how our competitors do, especially Liverpool, and that makes the situation more uncomfortable.
"We have to keep trying to play well and amass as many points as possible. I don't feel the title has already gone, and I don't think the Liverpool players will feel like that, because we are all professionals.
"We all try to do our best on the pitch but sometimes it doesn't work out – we are human beings."
City fell behind in the sixth minute at Anfield, Fabinho's stunning strike giving the hosts the lead after the visitors were denied a penalty for a potential handball by Trent Alexander-Arnold at the other end.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane added goals for Liverpool before Bernardo Silva's 78th-minute strike, but Gundogan felt the opener hurt City.
"It was [a killer], also maybe because of the action just before the goal was scored. I felt like they were a bit positive in the seconds after the hand situation, and Fabinho scored a great goal," he said.
"It's always tough when they score the first, especially at Anfield, and then go straight away for the second one, with the crowd and their emotions.
"It takes a tough mentality to fight against that and unfortunately they scored the second straight after. It's a defeat and we have to take it."