Jose Mourinho admits Tottenham may soon start to feel the effects of playing catch-up in the race for a top-four finish and believes it will be "a different" story next season.
Below-par Tottenham salvaged a 2-1 comeback win against Brighton and Hove Albion on Thursday, four days on from a disappointing 2-0 home loss to Chelsea.
Spurs are once more three points behind Chelsea, who went down 2-0 to Southampton, but Mourinho is realistic about their prospects of finishing in the top four.
Mourinho, who replaced Mauricio Pochettino last month with Tottenham 11 points adrift of the Champions League places, told reporters: "I started with minus 12 here. Minus 12.
"With minus 12, you have to recover 12 points - that's a lot. You can tell me, 'A couple of days ago you were minus three and had a chance to go for zero,' and you'd be right.
"But the problem is that during the recovery process you are not going to win all the time, and the other guys are not going to lose all the time.
"It is very difficult to get from 12, nine, eight, zero - it is very difficult to recover a distance of 12 points. We are minus three and have to try to be there.
"When we start next season with the same number of points, it is a different story. But for now it is hard and the players are feeling it. So it is not easy, but we go for it."
Citing the 2006-07 Serie A campaign, the season after Juventus were relegated for their part in the Calciopoli scandal, Mourinho added: "Some teams started that season with minus points - minus six, minus 10, minus eight.
"They played until the end of the season and you could see how they were affected by the minus."
Tottenham head to bottom side Norwich City on Saturday without Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko after they picked up their fifth bookings of the season against Brighton.
Mourinho revealed after the Brighton match that Tanguy Ndombele did not want to be selected, despite recently recovering from a groin injury, and he will let the club-record signing decide whether he is ready to feature against Norwich.
"I think he was honest," Mourinho said. "I think football players want to play football and for them to say, 'I don't feel confident to play, I feel not the best about my condition and previous injuries,' is just being honest.
"Against Brighton we had Winks and Sissoko, [Eric] Dier on the bench. We had [Oliver] Skipp, a great kid who is fighting to improve and fighting for a place, so we had solutions.
"Against Norwich there are less solutions. Let's see. I will watch Friday's training session and get a feeling of his condition. After training I hope he can say he is ready to help the team."