Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini admitted it will take a miracle for his side to reach the Champions League knockout stage after blaming himself for Wednesday's crushing loss at Ajax.
leaves them bottom of Group D on one point from three games with three matches remaining.
"It's my fault because I prepared badly for this game," said the Italian.
"There's one team with seven points, one team with six and one with three. It will be a miracle."
The result puts Ajax third, two points above City, with Borussia Dortmund top on seven points and Real Madrid second on six.
City host Ajax on 6 November and Real on 21 November before finishing with a trip to Dortmund on 4 December.
Barring a remarkable turnaround, the Premier League champions will miss out of the last 16 for the second season running.
They opened the scoring in Amsterdam against the run of play through Samir Nasri, but Siem de Jong equalised before half-time.
Niklas Moisander headed the Dutch champions in front after the break and Christian Eriksen's deflected shot sealed the win.
Mancini varied his tactics and formations as City chased the game and defender Micah Richards questioned the Italian's approach.
"[Playing three central defenders] is something we have not worked very much and it is the second time we have conceded after going to a back five.
"It is a hard system because we are not used to it. I think the players prefer a back four.
"But the manager likes it and if we want to do well with it then we'll have to work harder on it."
Mancini did not feel the changes of approach should have derailed his side, adding: "We changed for five minutes to three at the back, but we always have 11 players.
"I don't think that is important - three, four, five, six or seven defenders. If someone wants that as an excuse then OK, but it's not the reason.
"If you have the spirit or quality to play in the Champions League, you can play. If not, you can't. This is the problem. The tactics are not important."
Ajax coach Frank de Boer, whose club had not beaten an English club at home since 1980, was delighted to see his largely home-grown side secure their first points of the group stage.
"This was a crucial match for both teams of course," said the Dutchman. "The most important thing was to show we have confidence in our own qualities.
"Although City had chances I think we deserved to win this game. This is the way we want to play football and I am proud of the team.
"We also need to play like this against Dortmund and Real Madrid."