Jan Vertonghen insists Tottenham haven't improved from last season while the current Premier League top four have all kicked on.
Spurs went down 1-0 to Arsenal in Sunday's north London derby at White Hart Lane, with Arsene Wenger's side moving level with second-placed Liverpool, four points off leaders Chelsea.
The result saw Spurs slip to back-to-back defeats after a 4-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge and they are now seven points off fourth-placed Manchester City, who have played three games less.
Tim Sherwood now faces an uphill task of securing Champions League football next season with only eight games remaining.
It is a far cry from the optimism surrounding the club at the start of the season when they had shelled out more than 100 million pounds in the transfer market, following the 86m pounds sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, in a bid to break into the top four having missed out to Arsenal by a point last season.
"I do not want to look at the table anymore because the gap [to the top four] is very big," said Vertonghen.
"All four sides at the top are stronger than they were last year and we have stayed at the same level. If you see last season, then we did not improve.
"[However], I think we do have the players to achieve Champions League [qualification] and I hope we can achieve it next year."
Spurs will next look to overturn a 3-1 deficit against Benfica in the second leg of their Europa League tie on Thursday night with Vertonghen insisting they must regroup quickly.
"Of course we are all disappointed but we will try to come back with some good results," he said. "It is difficult now but we have to [pick ourselves up] and go again."