Yaya Toure has urged his Manchester City team-mates to react strongly to Sunday’s 3-2 derby defeat at the Etihad.
Robin van Persie struck a stoppage-time winner to end the reigning champions’ 37-match unbeaten home record in the Premier League and left them six points behind Manchester United in the title race.
But Toure is confident his City colleagues can emulate their comeback of last season, when they recovered from eight points behind with only six games left to claim the league title.
The Ivorian told Sky Sports, “This makes us more determined to win it. We are tough men, and when things get difficult, that is when you find the tough men.
“Last year was fantastic. But we have to forget what we have done in the past.
“We have to realise that sometimes you have a bad time. When you are at the top everybody wants to take you down. We have to be strong and work harder to turn this around.
“This year will be hard but we have a fantastic squad and we have the confidence to keep going until the final day.”
But as they searched for a late winner, Van Persie’s deflected free-kick found the back of the net to break Sky Blue hearts.
“It was a dagger in the heart – unbelievable,” Toure added. “We thought we would win it at 2-2, but United have great experience.
“We have to be strong mentally, and strong in every other way as well, because the Premier League is not finished yet.”