Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure believes his side's narrow defeat at the Bernabeu in their opening Champions League game shows they are improving as a European force.
Roberto Mancini's men led Real Madrid 2-1 with only five minutes remaining but were sunk by a 90th-minute Cristiano Ronaldo winner.
Toure, 29, said City were taking the positives from the defeat and explained: "It was not like group games I have played in before.
"It had the feel of a quarter-final or semi-final of the Champions League, and that's where we want to be - it was a fantastic game for us to be part of.
"For us this was a good test to see what level we are at and to see where we want to go. This shows City are continuing to improve and continuing to learn in Europe."
Toure said City still had plenty of games in which to get the points they need to go through to the knock-out stages, stressing that everyone at the Etihad was focused on doing better than last season.
"It's really important that we get to the knockout stages," he said. "If we can, it will prove that we are developing as a European team."
Vincent Kompany said his side had been undone by Ronaldo's brilliance, adding that he felt the Portugal international was the only difference between the sides on the night.
"Without Ronaldo it would have been a different game," the skipper added. "He's always a danger. When he's on the ball, you have to back off. He's capable of going past someone, and that doesn't happen so much.
"But we can be pleased with ourselves because it was very close."
Meanwhile, City face a wait to see how bad the injury sustained by France international Samir Nasri on Tuesday night is. Nasr suffered a suspected hamstring tear during the first half, and potentially faces three weeks on the sidelines.