Vincent Kompany has urged Manchester City to finish the season with a flourish to set them up to regain the title next year.
The City captain finds it "disappointing" that his side are 15 points adrift of league leaders Manchester United and about to lose their crown to their local rivals.
But he believes that if they win the FA Cup and end the league campaign in form, as they did two years ago, it can be the springboard to future glory.
"Collectively it is disappointing. At the same time, I feel there is still a lot to look forward to," he said. "Whichever way we finish this season might set us up for the next one. I always remember the way we finished the season when we won the FA Cup.
"We finished equal points with Chelsea, which was a massive boost for us. We secured a place in the Champions League and also won the FA Cup. The year after that we went on to win the title. The end of one season has an impact on how you start the next one."
Kompany made a goalscoring comeback for City in Saturday's 4-0 win over Newcastle after two months on the sidelines with a calf injury.
"Hopefully I will stay fit now until the end of the season," he added.
City had expected him to return earlier after he made a swift recovery from a similar problem 12 months ago, but Kompany explained: "It is more a situation that last season, when we were going towards the title, we didn't have enough time to do the real rehab as it should have been. Usually it takes three or four weeks. We took four or five days.
"It catches up with you. Now I have taken the right amount of time and I have put in the right amount of work as well. If anything I feel really strong now."
City's defending was criticised earlier in the season but they kept a fifth clean sheet in six games in the win against Newcastle and Kompany believes they can still be better at the back.
"We need to keep improving. We have never taken it for granted," he said. "We have done a lot of work outside the pitch, the defenders together, to make sure we keep improving. It makes it so easy to come back and settle into the defence. We know exactly what we have to do, whether it is me, [Matija] Nastastic, Kolo [Toure] or Joleon Lescott."