Nigel de Jong has urged his team-mates to quickly get over their derby blues and target the Champions League showdown on May 5 with Tottenham that he labels "The Crunch".
City's Holland midfielder tackled like a tiger on Saturday only to finish on the wrong end of a cruel 1-0 derby defeat that put a dent in the bid to claim the vital fourth place.
And as the Blues began the next job of picking themselves up for the tough trip to Arsenal, he admitted: "The Tottenham game looks more and more like The Crunch.
"But Arsenal and Villa are pretty big games before that as well. They are direct opponents for fourth, but Liverpool are still out there. We need points, or one of the others will take the place."
De Jong reckons City players should keep the derby result in perspective as Roberto Mancini's men gear up for the last three weeks of what is their first complete campaign as a team.
He said: "If we get fourth, this will be forgotten - if we can get into the Champions League, no-one will be complaining about the games against United.
"People forget this is our first real season, with a lot of new players - we are new to each other, it's not like we've had years, but we're still close to fourth with three games left.
"United are a top side, but it's no fluke that we have done well against them in four games this season, and playing well against a top side gives you confidence."
Remaining tickets for the Tottenham game on May 5 (8pm) start from £28 for adults.