Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany called for calm after seeing what would have been an invaluable point sail over his head and past Joe Hart at the Bernabeu on Tuesday night, reminding the doomsayers that at least they will only have to face Cristiano Ronaldo once more in the group stage.
"He made the difference. Without Ronaldo it would have been a different game," said Kompany after the Portuguese forward's goal a minute from full-time left City third in Champions League group D.
"Joe initially thought I might have been able to get it. But there was no chance. It was on the side of me and it just floated. He was too quick and by the time you get in position, the ball is already gone.
"I think he's one of the only players that can do that. He's got that technique and there is nothing much you can do once he has the chance to take that shot, all you can do is try to close down the space before he hits it."
Roberto Mancini complained about his City players sitting back and allowing Real Madrid to attack them. But Kompany said it was Ronaldo's magic that frightened defences into retreat.
"When he's on the ball you have to back off. He's capable of going past someone. I guess it's why Barcelona and Real Madrid are regarded as the two best teams in the world because (with Lionel Messi) they have those two outstanding players.
"The goal wasn't Joe's fault. It floated past everyone. There are not many players in the world who can do that but unfortunately for us he is one of them."
The defeat gives Manchester City a worse start than last season when they drew with Napoli in their opening game, but there is a feeling that the most difficult job is now out of the way.
"Real Madrid will probably take the points off Ajax and Dortmund at home too," Kompany said. "What happened was regrettable but there's no drama. This is just the first game.
"It could have been a bonus point but we were playing against one of the strongest teams in the world, at their home. We'll improve this season and this was a great way to measure ourselves, to find out where we are as a club."
The sentiments were echoed by Gareth Barry, who said after making it so hard for Madrid for so long they would now not be relishing the prospect of their trip to Manchester.
"We matched them and could have come away with the three points," Barry said. "I'm sure it'll be a great game when they come to the Etihad Stadium but before then we have to get some points on the board.
"The positives are there -- we twice took the lead; we've scored two goals in the Bernabeu and frustrated them for long periods of the game. There are so many positives we can take while at the same time seeing the big picture and recognising that we've lost the first game.
"We're going to need some big performances, but we believe we can produce them."
There was also encouragement to be taken from the respect Jose Mourinho had shown the opposition by selecting Michael Essien in a strong three-man midfield that left no space for flair players Luka Modric and Mesut Ozil.
"There were a couple of surprises (in the selection)," admitted Barry. "They packed their midfield out with more defensive players."
City now face Arsenal at the weekend, with Samir Nasri likely to miss out against his old club after picking up a hamstring injury in the first half against Real Madrid. "It's important we bounce back," added Barry. "We are undefeated (in the league) and this is a massive game for us." (© Independent News Service)