Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini played down the damage a 2-1 defeat at West Ham has done to his side's Premier League title defence.
City are five points behind leaders Chelsea, who have 22 points and can extend the gap with a win or draw at Manchester United on Sunday.
"We are just starting the season and we have 87 points left to play for. So it is early," said Pellegrini.
"We'll continue fighting as there is no title being handed out at the moment."
Defeat ends a difficult week for the English champions after a 2-2 Champions League draw against CSKA Moscow in midweek, in which they let a two-goal lead slip.
The loss at Upton Park means Pellegrini's men have dropped 10 points from their opening nine top-flight games.
But the Chilean pointed out that last season his team were also off the pace after the same amount of games.
On the back of a defeat by Chelsea, City were seventh in the Premier League after nine games and six points behind leaders Arsenal.
Pellegrini insisted he continued "trusting" in his players but acknowledged City's first-half performance and lack of cutting edge cost them against the Hammers.
Efforts from Morgan Amalfitano and Diafra Sakho at Upton Park left City 2-0 down and, despite David Silva pulling a goal back, they could not prevent a second league defeat of the season.
"West Ham played very well and with a very high intensity," said Pellegrini. "We had a lot of chances to score but it is difficult to win if you don't take them.
"We were very unlucky in the second half - we hit the post and went just wide with another.
"In the first half we did not play with enough intensity. I thought they would be more tired in the second half and we would be able to move the ball easier, which we did - but in the end we couldn't take our chances.
"I don't think it was a fault of our team for the performance in the first half, it was more about the intensity of West Ham and you must credit them for that."