Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes last season's dramatic title success may have had a draining effect on his side.
City seemingly threw away their hopes of winning the Barclays Premier League a year ago, only to produce a remarkable late charge to snatch the crown from Manchester United's grasp.
This season they have struggled to match the intensity of that glorious campaign and their hopes of retaining their crown seem remote. Mancini does not put that down to any collective lack of desire on the part of his players, but accepts intensity could have dropped.
The Italian said: "I think the players always play 100 per cent. I don't think they play just 50 per cent, but this can happen with a team like us, that for 40-odd years didn't win a title.
The year after a team wins a title, it could be that you don't play like when you won the championship, without the same intensity. Maybe you think, 'Okay we are strong, it's enough to play'.
"This can be normal, but I think...