Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye has said he believes Manchester City are 15 points behind the Premier League leaders because they do not play as a team.
The Magpies travel to the Etihad Stadium to face the defending champions on Saturday, with City well adrift of table-topping Manchester United.
France international Cabaye said he believed that meant it would be impossible for City to retain their crown, telling the Sun: "City have fantastic players but, unfortunately for them, they don't think and play as a team - it's not the same as United.
"So maybe that's the difference. City are still a fantastic team, but they are a team of individuals.
"The 15 points is a big difference, and it's going to be more difficult than last season when they had eight points [to make up]. I think it's impossible because if United win three games, they win the title."
Meanwhile, striker Shola Ameobi warned City that they would be facing a completely different side to the one they defeated easily before Christmas.
"We are building a team that is challenging in the Premier League," Ameobi told the Evening Chronicle. "We've come a long way. Hopefully, we can go out there and give a performance and get a good result.
"The hardest thing to do is to defend a title, and they're finding that out this season. As much as they'll be hurting, they're still wanting to secure that second spot."
He said Newcastle, currently 13th in the table, were aiming higher, explaining: "If we get a couple of wins together, it shoots you right up the table. It's not inconceivable that we can finish near a European spot."
The Magpies will be without midfielder Cheick Tiote, who has been ruled out with a hamstring strain that may also see him miss the Europa League first-leg tie against Benfica next week.
But manager Alan Pardew said he still believed City would be up against "a slightly stronger team to the one they faced at St James'".
In contrast, City could welcome back captain Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero following injuries.