Pep Guardiola felt Manchester City were simply not good enough to beat Southampton in a controversial goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium.
The champions could only muster one attempt on target - from Phil Foden in the 90th minute - in a frustrating stalemate, their lowest tally in a Premier League match since March 2017.
City were relieved when a second-half penalty awarded against Kyle Walker was overturned, ensuring the England defender stayed on the field after being shown a red card.
Raheem Sterling had a late goal disallowed for offside as City slipped up, after Guardiola had called for a big turnout from fans following a 6-3 Champions League thrashing of RB Leipzig in midweek.
The City boss made it clear his side did not do enough to secure all three points.
He told Sky Sports: "We drew a game against a good opponent that defended really well. They have very good players in the middle like [Oriol] Romeu, one of the best midfield players in the Premier League.
"It was a tight game, we were not comfortable in our build-up and lost more balls than usual and we created a feeling that was not good, that's why we struggled."
1 - Manchester City directed just one shot on target in the whole game against Southampton (via Phil Foden in the 90th minute), their lowest tally in a Premier League match since March 8th 2017 when they also managed just one, against Stoke City. Misfiring. pic.twitter.com/GG7OsSAC5S— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 18, 2021
Guardiola added: "Every game is completely different. all the time when you play Champions League, the game after is difficult, especially with this opponent.
"We didn't have this pace, calm and precision with the ball like we normally have and that's why we struggled."
Guardiola said he did not have a clear view of either of the incidents that resulted in huge calls following VAR checks.
"I didn't watch both, not even now in the locker room. The penalty was maybe disallowed because it was not a penalty and the goal because it's no goal." the Spaniard said.