Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger conceded his team lost their defensive discipline after being blown away 6-3 at Manchester City.
Yet the Gunners boss maintained his Barclays Premier League leaders were still the equal of City, even though their message in moving within three points of the Londoners was clear.
Arsenal had travelled to the Etihad Stadium with the best defensive statistics in the Premier League but freescoring City upheld their 100 per cent home record in some style.
Wenger said: "It was a difficult game. We had the best defence in the league and we conceded many goals today.
"Honestly, we could have scored at least six as well, it was a very open game.
"I think we made too many mistakes. Our strength until now was our defensive discipline but that went as the game went on.
"We were in a position where we could see the legs were tired a little bit and we had to run after the score.
"What hurts me more was that we had the opportunity to put Man City at nine points and now they are three points (behind).
"That is very different. That is a team that was not unbeatable today."
In a moment of controversy, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere appeared to make a crude gesture in the direction of City fans.
The matter could be looked at by the Football Association.
Wenger said: "I didn't see that. I don't know if he did it. If he did it and is banned, we will have to accept it."
Playmaker Mesut Ozil also appeared to head for the dressing room straight after the final whistle without joining his team-mates to applaud the visiting fans.
An argument with team-mate and fellow German Per Mertesacker reportedly ensued but Wenger played down the incident.
He said: "That is the Germans, they will sort that out between themselves. Don't worry."
Arsenal had gone into the Saturday lunchtime game at a perceived disadvantage after playing in the Champions League on Wednesday night, 24 hours after City had been in action.
But Wenger said: "I don't want to look for excuses after a defeat like that but it doesn't help.
"I said before the game I would not use it as an excuse and I won't do it now, but it was not ideal.
"You could see we were not as fresh as we should be for a big game."
City's victory is certain to see their status as title favourites strengthened but Wenger did not necessarily agree.
He said: "They are one of the teams to beat, but not more than any of the other ones we have played until now.
"We have played Everton, who were as good as City, and Southampton, who were as good as City."
City's prolific strikeforce of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo put them ahead before Fernandinho struck twice and David Silva and Yaya Toure also scored.
Arsenal remained in contention for over an hour after two goals from Theo Walcott but Mertesacker's late header was mere consolation.
Arsenal will also assess defender Laurent Koscielny after he suffered a deep cut to the knee attempting to prevent Negredo scoring.
Wenger said: "He has a cut. He will be out for a while but for how long I don't know."