London - Separated from Chelsea by alphabetical order on New Year's Day, Manchester City now trail the Premier League leaders by nine points and their hopes of retaining the title appear to be over.
A 2-1 defeat by Crystal Palace on Monday continued a poor run of form that has brought only four wins in 11 league games and sent City down to fourth, piling the pressure on manager Manuel Pellegrini
City had 74 percent possession, 22 shots and 13 corners against a spirited Palace side but they could only find the net through Yaya Toure's 78th-minute goal.
Striker Sergio Aguero, who has bagged 17 league goals this season, has not scored for 556 minutes, a statistic that sums up a side bereft of ideas and confidence.
City have spent 327 million pounds ($486 million) since 2011 but much of the money has gone on assembling a disjointed and ageing squad which urgently needs of a major overhaul.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville believes City do not have the mental strength to regularly deliver silverware.
"They've got a mentality problem. There's no doubt," Neville told Sky Sports. "This team cannot sustain success.
"When you win championships, you've got to be able to come back again and show the same hunger. They don't. They drop off it. They get to the top of the mountain and go, 'phew, we did it', and it's the worst thing that can happen."
City trail third-placed Manchester United by a point and they face their local rivals at Old Trafford on Sunday knowing defeat could be the final nail in their season's coffin.
"They're getting older. Their average age is the highest in the league at 29 and a half," Neville said.
"Unfortunately, some of those lads are not going to be there next season. They're going to pay for what is a disappointing season."
Pellegrini, however, remains confident that he will not suffer the fate of his predecessor Roberto Mancini who was sacked for failing to win a trophy a year after City claimed the title.
"I'm not concerned about my job. That is one thing I am never concerned with," Pellegrini told reporters.
"I never have fear about it, I do my work, I'm very happy. The team maybe have a difficult season but I never worry about me."