Roberto Mancini has warned that Manchester City have no chance of winning the title unless they learn a harsh lesson from their last-second defeat to Sunderland.
The Italian was furious after Ji Dong-Won's injury-time goal condemned his side to a second Premier League defeat of the season and stormed off down the tunnel as Sunderland celebrated before tearing into his team in the dressing-room.
Although City dominated the second half and penned the home side inside their own half for long spells, they failed to take their chances and were slow to get back whenever Sunderland countered.
Despite the warning signs, City continued to pour forward in vast numbers and were exposed in injury-time as Ji played a one-two with Stephane Sessegnon, rounded Joe Hart and sent the Stadium of Light delirious.
"We can't lose a game like we did today," said Mancini. "In the second half I don't know how many chances we had to score, but football is like this sometimes.
"We can't concede like this on the counter-attack and we did that in the last 10 minutes. You need to defend and when you attack with seven players you can't concede a goal like we conceded.
"I kept saying in the last 10 minutes to Joleon (Lescott) and Vinnie (Kompany) 'stay there, stay there' because I could see that it was dangerous to keep attacking like we were with so many men. We wanted to attack with 10 players and that is impossible.
"I was disappointed with the fact, when our attack broke down, we had players who did not run back, they stood where they were.
"Top teams do not do that. If you attack with eight players the same players have to run quickly back. I need players on the pitch who understand the situation, that you can't leave only two defenders back."
Ji had strayed marginally offside before beating Hart, but Mancini was not interested in excuses.
"The goal is offside, but we cannot do anything about that. It is finished, we have another game in 48 hours and we have to think about that," he said. "In the first half we were so so, but in the second we played well. We have been a little bit unlucky in our last two games because we have created a lot of chances and not scored.
"Sometimes in football you create those chances and you score three or four every game."
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill, who insisted he had no problem with Mancini's early departure from pitchside at the end of the match, was thrilled to have secured the points.
Asked if he was delighted, he said: "Absolutely, yes. It was just a remarkable performance by the team. It was a fantastic effort, really, really fantastic." (© Daily Telegraph, London)