Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has described arch-rivals Manchester United as a "killing machine" as the Premier League leaders storm their way to a 20th league title.
Hart, currently in the England camp preparing for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, concedes City has been "disappointing" in defence of their title, forced to endure the torment of United opening a 15-point gap at the top of the table.
But the Three Lions number one also admitted the Red Devils deserved their place at the pinnacle, charging to the top with a ruthless efficiency at the expense of their cross-town neighbours.
"Maybe we have drawn more games than we would have liked to but it has not been a perfect season - and it needs to be pretty perfect to win this league, " Hart said.
"We have done well but we have been up against a killing machine that have kept turning out results no matter what.
"It is a tough league, it's hard to win games. Unfortunately when we do lose, United stretch that lead and it has been disappointing but we will keep going.
"We worked so hard to get that title we are never going to just give it away. I'd imagine from the outside it looks that way, but that's just not the case."
And with United storming to the title City won last season, Hart has come under increasing pressure from club manager Roberto Mancini.
But the 25-year-old accepts there will always be criticism of his performances as long as he is playing for one of the biggest clubs in England.
However, whether he takes note of that criticism is another matter.
"You have got to be able to move on. Everyone is going to have their opinion, " Hart said. "What is said in private, that's for behind the scenes but he (Mancini) is free to do his press conferences as he feels and if he feels you are not up to it ..."
"I've tried to stay consistent, prepare and show desire in the games. I do everything I can to stop goals; sometimes I can save it, sometimes not. Sometimes the ones that I should be saving, haven't been saved.
"But as long as I've kept my prime focus of doing everything I can, then that's all I can really do.
"Am I a victim of standards? I'm definitely not a victim. I love playing, I love training hard, I love playing hard and I love winning.
"I have to accept when I'm playing that there's going to be another side and you have to take that sometimes.
"People are free to criticise or praise. I'm never going to tell anyone what to say or do about me but at the same time I don't have to listen.
"I'm pretty strong with how I feel about what I should and shouldn't have done.
"That's the beauty of football and that's why it's such a big industry and that's why it gets so many people involved. People are allowed their opinions.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.