Manuel Pellegrini has said Manchester City must improve their faltering away form if they are to stand a chance of winning the Premier League title this season.
Sunday's shock 1-0 loss at relegation-threatened Sunderland saw City miss a chance to climb into the top three as their wretched run away from their Eastlands fortress continued.
Pellegrini's side have a 100% record from five home games in the league so far this season, but away from the Etihad Stadium it's a different story.
Despite posting recent wins on the road in the Champions League and League Cup, City have now taken just four points from a possible 18 in the Premier League after suffering a fourth successive single-goal defeat at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.
"I'm concerned with the away form," City manager Pellegrini said. "We're losing too many points away, and if you don't win away from home, that makes it difficult to fight for the Premier League."
After seeing his side plunder 12 goals in their previous two home games, the Chilean refused to paint a totally bleak picture regarding the club's chances of repeating the 2012 title success under his Italian predecessor Roberto Mancini.
"I have to repeat that despite losing against Sunderland, we're not playing badly as a team," Pellegrini added.
"We had lots of possession and created plenty of chances. I think Sunderland created one chance and scored from it.
"I really can't believe we lost, but that's football. We were a little bit rushed at times, but what would I change? Nothing, I think we're playing really well at present."
Resurgent Sunderland pulled to within three points of safety after a third win in four games under new manager Gus Poyet, thanks to a goal scored by former Manchester United defender Phil Bardsley.
"My first win here as head coach came against Newcastle, and I know what that meant to the fans," said Poyet of a victory over Sunderland's arch north-east rivals.
"But in terms of the quality of opposition we were up against and the world-class players available to Manchester City, this has to go down as the biggest win of my coaching career," the Uruguayan added.
"I'm so glad for the players, because this type of result helps them to believe in what we're trying to do here. It's easy to talk, but at the end of the day they need to go out there and perform. That's just what they've done against some top opposition.
"We put our bodies on the line and showed great concentration and belief. As a manager you need things to happen in a game to show that your methods work. As a result of this win, the feeling now when we play at home is going to be totally different.
"We've got that strength of belief now and it's something we need to carry forward with us.
"Before the game, the league table wasn't looking good at all, but that win makes it look a whole lot better going into the international break," Poyet insisted.