Milan coach Stefano Pioli dismissed the suggestion his team are suffering from a lack of "hunger" as they prepare to face city rivals Inter in Wednesday's Supercoppa Italiana.
The Rossoneri have not won any of their previous three games as they threw away a 2-0 lead in a 2-2 draw with Roma, found themselves dumped out of the Coppa Italia by 10-man Torino, and then had to fight back from 2-0 down just to rescue a point at Lecce.
Although in that period they have moved above Juventus in the Serie A table to take ownership of second, Milan are now nine points behind leaders Napoli.
Much of the build-up to the Supercoppa has been centred around Milan and Inter – who are a point further back in Serie A – requiring a trophy success to boost their respective title chances.
But the suggestion Milan are less motivated than last year did not sit well with Pioli, who said: "How does such a young team that has only won on trophy not be hungry?
"There's only one thing we can control: the quality of our game. If we lower the quality, it becomes difficult to win games. It's not a question of having a 'full stomach'."
In fact, Pioli recognises Wednesday's game in Riyadh as an opportunity to have continuity in terms of success, with Milan hoping last season's Serie A title triumph was the start of a successful new era rather than a flash in the pan.
"It's an important match. We have the chance to win another trophy, it would mean giving continuity to the path we started," Pioli added.
"We know that the last week or so hasn't been the best, but tomorrow is a game in itself, like every other derby is.
"There is a trophy up for grabs and this raises the level of the match, and so we have to raise our level."
The idea that Supercoppa success could be a catalyst was also put to Pioli's counterpart, Simone Inzaghi.
Inter's board has reportedly made it clear to Inzaghi that they view beating Milan as a possible turning point in the season, though he is seemingly not convinced there is a link between victory in this game and subsequent improvement.
"We'll have to wait and see. I remember last year that we enjoyed the Supercoppa final win over Juventus in the right way, because a few days later we were back playing away to Bergamo," he recalled.
"Football never stops. Three days later, we were talking about a 0-0 draw in Bergamo against Atalanta.
"We need to just take one game at a time. Now we've got Milan, and we're preparing for it in the best way we can.
"The players need to work hard for their team-mates because in these types of games it's the only way you end the game without regrets."