James Milner conceded Manchester City might have suffered a telling blow in the title race despite his late rescue act against Hull.
England midfielder Milner struck a superb injury-time free-kick to snatch a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium after a troubled afternoon against the relegation battlers.
The result left the champions seven points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea and needing inspiration to get the defence of their crown back on track.
Milner said: "We can't really afford too many more slip-ups, if any. Chelsea have a big lead now but it's down to us to see how many points we can get.
"We know, more than anyone, you have to keep going to the death and anything can happen, but I think we have got to be pretty faultless between now and the end of the season to get close."
City have already recovered from a bigger deficit this season, having trailed Chelsea by eight points in November. A good run of form in December saw them pull level with the Londoners before the end of 2014, and they could even have gone ahead had they not been pegged back to a 2-2 draw by Burnley.
But problems have again resurfaced in the new year and they are now without a win in five matches in all competitions, a streak that included a shock loss to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini accepted his team were lacking in ideas and Milner is at a loss to explain this season's home form. City have won just seven of their 12 league games at Eastlands this term.
He said: "You can look at a few things but over the 90 minutes I don't think we troubled them as much as we should have done.
"For whatever reason we've struggled at home this year and dropped far too many points.
"It's a flip from last year when our away form was poor. It's disappointing but we need to regroup and come back and try and put a run of results together."
City were unusually subdued throughout the first half and had a scare when Ahmed Elmohamady thumped a header against the crossbar.
Hull, going into the game in the bottom three and on the back of three successive losses, showed no lack of confidence and looked the better side.
Their reward came in the 35th minute when David Meyler turned home a rebound after Gaston Ramirez had struck the post with a shot fired amid some chaotic scenes in the City defence.
City did increase the pressure in the second half and had a strong penalty appeal turned down when Alex Bruce appeared to knock David Silva over.
It seemed Hull might hold on when Sergio Aguero hit the bar in the 90th minute but there was still time for Milner, a 66th-minute substitute, to have the final say by bending a fine free-kick around the wall.
For Hull, it was hard to take after such a battling display but it was still a good point and they now go into Tuesday's home clash against Aston Villa with renewed spirits.
Manager Steve Bruce said: "We've now got a huge game on Tuesday and we need to produce a performance we can relish, like we did here. Let's hope we can keep it up.
"We have to turn our home form around, for certain, but it bodes well when you can go to Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City and get draws."
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