James Milner has insisted Manchester City were never going to be able simply to buy their way to the Barclays Premier League title.
Owner Sheik Mansour has reportedly invested more than £400million on players in a bid to make the club champions, money that looked well spent during the first half of the season.
But the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal left City's campaign on the brink of unravelling completely, with arch-rivals Manchester United now eight points clear with only six games remaining.
United are past masters at winning the title, having done so 12 times in the last 19 seasons, while the neighbours' most recent success was in 1967.
Midfielder Milner has claimed City's expensively-assembled squad were always going to need time to learn the art of claiming championships.
He said: "We have brought players in and it takes time for them to settle, coming from abroad or from other clubs, and gelling as a team.
"We have challenged this season and are still fighting until the end.
"As a team, to move forwards, to keep improving, you have to work hard and be together for a number of years.
"Hopefully, we will keep improving as a team and moving forwards as a club."
He added: "United are obviously a strong side, but we knew that all season.
"For the last 20 years, they have got that knack of winning and know how to close out title races. This is the first year we have been up there as a group.
"But it is not over yet. We will keep fighting to the end.
"Learning is the biggest thing, of being in these positions.
"Last season, we won the FA Cup, having that winning mentality to go on and win trophies.
"You ask any player and they will tell you that winning the Premier League is so special because you can win other trophies by having off days and get through cup ties, but the Premier League is 38 tough games, home and away."