Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits his squad have some way to go to be a genuine top-four side and hopes the forthcoming transfer window can assist the process.
Yesterday's 3-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at home to Aston Villa highlighted the deficiencies in the side - some of which Rodgers could not explain and others which he will try to correct with new signings next month.
Despite talking up his team pre-match, setting second-placed Manchester City as the target to aim for, Rodgers took a more pragmatic view afterwards.
"That was probably as disappointing as we've been here but I couldn't put my finger on it," he said.
"It is a strange thing football. We were talked up all week about us being top-four material but we know within the group we still have a long way to go.
"There is going to be steady progress and there are going to be steps forward, like in the last few weeks, and a step backward like yesterday.
"We looked at the first six months to assess: we know we need some support and hopefully we can get that in.
"We understand the process as well but the most important thing is to learn from it (the defeat).
"The thing we've learned from yesterday is that you can't ever be complacent.
"You have to be at full tilt every week. If we do that we have a great chance of getting the points but if we don't you can get punished.
"The challenge for us now is to have a good week's training and come back next Saturday and hopefully get three points and get on the upward curve again."