Roberto Mancini says Manchester City are 'four or five years' away from having a squad with a rich depth of quality like Barcelona.
January has been a testing time for City, with a number of senior players unavailable for selection due to a mixture of injury, suspension and international duty.
Yaya and Kolo Toure are both with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations, while captain Vincent Kompany will miss a further three games following a four-match ban.
Meanwhile, David Silva was also sidelined for the defeat against Liverpool last week, in a game which saw Mario Balotelli substituted due to injury.
And, despite having invested gargantuan sums of money in reinforcing his squad, Manini believes only a side like Barcelona would be able to cope with an absentee list like the one currently at the Etihad Stadium.
"Maybe Barcelona could. Manchester City no," said Mancini.
"In four or five years, Manchester City probably yes. But not now.
"When I said one month ago that December and January would be the crucial months it was because I know football.
"Every year in every squad you have one difficult moment. At the moment we are not strong and we have lost important players, so it is difficult."