Gael Clichy has told his team-mates to forget last season's title glory and roll up their sleeves for a fight.
The France international helped City to a battling 3-1 Premier League victory at Newcastle on Saturday to ensure they maintained pace with arch-rivals Manchester United who are six points clear at the top of the table.
But the visitors had to summon up all their considerable reserves to see themselves over the finishing line after the Magpies launched a concerted fightback, and Clichy believes that same spirit will serve them well as they attempt to defend their status as top dogs not only in Manchester, but in England.
Clichy told City TV: "The only thing we have been missing this year is probably a bit of spirit. From last season, people expect more from us - our fans, ourselves."Last season was a great season, but like the manager says, we have to put this behind us and start to work."This could be an example for everyone because the work-rate was unbelievable from the players up front to the defenders and (keeper) Joe (Hart). That's the spirit we have to have.
"We know the quality is there - we can score, we have seen it since the beginning of the season that we can score against any team, any time, but we just need this extra fighting spirit and on Saturday, we had it."
City arrived at St James' Park still smarting from their 3-2 derby defeat by United and knowing that anything other than victory could extend the gap between themselves and the top of the table.
However, Clichy insisted they could not afford to dwell on that disappointing afternoon at the Etihad Stadium.
He said: "We lost the game against United, a great team. From 2-0 down, we came back to 2-2 and unfortunately lost in the last minute to a free-kick.
"Of course it was a disappointment because we lost the three points, but there were plenty of positives during the game.
"One game is not the end of the world and we just wanted to stay focussed for this game, and now this game is over, we are going to think for next week.
"We are just going to take game after game and see how it goes."
City had to weather an early flurry from Newcastle during which Hart made a vital save from Papiss Cisse, but took control after forcing their way into a 10th-minute lead.
Yaya Toure's inch-perfect pass allowed Samir Nasri to square for Sergio Aguero to slot home, and the goal sparked a real purple patch in which the Magpies found themselves chasing shadows.
Javi Garcia's 39th-minute header gave them further breathing space, but when Demba Ba reduced the deficit six minutes after the restart, the home side sensed an opportunity.
It took a 78th-minute strike by Yaya Toure to end Newcastle's hopes and secure three vital points with Clichy delighted with the way he and his defensive colleagues handled the twin threat of Ba and Papiss Cisse.
The 27-year-old said: "They are really good and they suit English football perfectly because they are fast, they are powerful, they are really good in the air, but not only in the air, they can play with the ball at their feet.
"They are great players and it's credit to the defence and the team. Of course we conceded one goal, but to be able to perform the way we did - because Newcastle is a really tough place to come - and against those players we have to be aware until the last minute."
Clichy individually was as impressive as anyone at the back, but his own assessment was a model of modesty.
He said: "I am not Messi or Ronaldo, that's for sure, but of course I want to work hard for my team and for the fans because everyone deserves at least this from me.
"Not only me, but the whole team, performed well and that's the way we want to go until the end of the season."