Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has admitted the gap to Premier League leaders Chelsea is all but insurmountable after seeing his side scrap their way to victory at Sunderland.
City's 2-0 win on Wearside left them eight points adrift of the Blues and with their manager fearing that is simply too much to retain any real hope of reining them in.
Guardiola said: "[It's] three more points. We are there behind, of course, Chelsea because they are almost unstoppable, but we are there for the rest of the teams.
"It's a pity that the distance between Chelsea is so big, but that's true. We started the season with 10 games winning, but our game was not like today.
"I feel we are playing quite well and that's why we are getting results. But now, of course, we are in a position when you arrive in March and April, every game if you win, you stay; if you lose, you are out.
"In the Premier League, in the cup, in the Champions League. The players know, we know, the club knows, if we are not able to win the next game we will be out."
City, who climbed back into third place as a result of their win, were second best before Sergio Aguero opened the scoring with his fifth goal in three games three minutes from the break, and Leroy Sane made sure with a second after 59 minutes.
Asked about £37million Sane's contribution - his goal was his sixth in 10 games - Guardiola, who worked with Lionel Messi during his time at Barcelona, said: "He's just 20, 21 years old, so the gap to become a really good player is so big still, so big. And and I can say that because I was manager for the best player in history, so that's why I know the gap.
"He can improve. He has to know we are going to push him a lot, and the moment he relaxes he is going to be in another place, he will not be on the pitch because we want to help him.
"With this talent it would be a pity if we didn't try to help him to fulfil all this potential that he has."
Sunderland boss David Moyes, who saw Jermain Defoe hit a post at 0-0, was able to take some comfort from his team's performance, but knows the club face another major fight to retain their top-flight status.
He said: "We know it's going to be tough. I want to get it to the wire, but we need to win the games. We've only got one more in March before we go to April.
"Probably in the calendar you would say this was one of the tough fixtures, to come here and beat Manchester City, and I thought the players gave it a go and I have told them that. I've said they should remain positive after and they are.
"We hit the bar against Everton, it bounced out and it didn't bounce for anybody, it span away. Today, we hit the post and it comes out and we just don't quite get the rebound. So the last two games we have come really close to getting something and I just hope that that little bit of fortune changes."