Roberto Mancini has urged his Manchester City side to show the strength of champions at the start of what he believes is a pivotal month in their season.
City slipped six points behind Manchester United with last Sunday's 3-2 derby defeat to Sir Alex Ferguson's team, even though Mancini still believes he has the stronger side.
And they go to Newcastle on Saturday, looking to claw their way back into contention in a run of six league games in 29 days.
The defending champions also travel to Sunderland, Norwich and Arsenal and host Reading and Stoke.
"We have time to recover all these points but it is important we start now," said Mancini. "It is an important month." City won 2-0 at St James' Park in the penultimate game of last season and have triumphed in their last five games against Newcastle.
But Mancini believes this is a tougher test now because City's recent faltering form and their injury problems.
"Newcastle usually is a difficult game," he added. "They have a good team, a good manager. Also we have a problem with the players at this moment because we have three, four, five injured and we don't know who plays. It is in this moment a strong team works more to improve.
"It is clear we are not in a good moment. We only took one point from the last two games but we need to be strong."
Mancini reiterated his belief that he has a stronger side than Sir Alex Ferguson. He added: "It is my opinion that we showed that we are better than United. They have more experience than us and they don't have any problems when they are behind and they continue to work.
"We should do the same, continue to work hard and we know that it only depends on us. The season is very long and in February when the Champions League starts, everything can change."