Pep Guardiola criticised his misfiring attack rather than referee Andre Marriner as Manchester City squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium.
City had responded positively to their 4-0 thrashing at Everton by dominating a Spurs side that had won seven straight games, and goals from Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne had put them in charge.
However, the visitors mustered a comeback to score with their only two efforts on target as Dele Alli's header was followed by Son Heung-min's leveller.
Sixty-five seconds before Son's strike, Raheem Sterling appeared to be knocked off balance by a Kyle Walker shove at the other end as he raced through before hitting weakly at Hugo Lloris.
Referee Marriner was uninterested in City's appeals, though Walker later conceded he had nudged Sterling, telling BT Sport: "I wasn't going to get (the ball) otherwise. You have to put him off as much as possible."
Guardiola, who had been livid on the sideline at the time, pinpointed his team's inability to kill Spurs off for the reason they ultimately threw away their second-half advantage.
"It doesn't matter - it's the same argument like what happened against Chelsea (when City lost 3-1)," he said in his press conference.
"We lost because we missed a lot of chances. When that happens, the influence of the referee is higher.
"When you score a goal, the referee doesn't matter. But the rules here are the rules so maybe Mike Riley is one day going to explain to me.
"When it's a push here (arm) or here (shoulder) but still I don't understand. But, again, we lost because we miss a lot of chances. When we don't miss a lot of chances, the referee doesn't matter.
"I know you like honest people and Walker was and I think Raheem was. The people that come from other countries, we try to be honest as well."
Even with Walker's confession, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino disagreed with Guardiola's assessment.
He thought it was a more debatable call and highlighted how Lloris had nodded the ball into Sane's hand in the build-up to City's opener.
"For me it wasn't a penalty," Pochettino said.
"Like (when) Sane scored, it was handball. (If) it was a penalty, it was handball, (but) it wasn't a penalty, it wasn't handball. It's a good balance. In the two actions, that is England. If we review all the actions, you can see that touch in behind (from Walker) happens a lot and the referee never says anything about that.
"For me, it wasn't a penalty. In England, it's different. We are different, in a different world here. We cannot complain about the referee.
"It's true that Manchester City were better than us, I need to be honest. Sometimes in football you don't win."
Of more concern to Guardiola was his team's inability to beat Lloris more frequently. On both of the occasions they did manage to score, it came as a result of the Frenchman's gaffes, and Guardiola admitted an attack spearheaded by the ineffective Sergio Aguero has issues.
"It was a deja vu game - it was the same as all of the season," Guardiola added.
"We missed a lot of chances and we created a lot. How many shots on target for Everton? Four. How many for Manchester City? Seven, eight for zero (goals). Today: the same - two shots on targets, two goals (for Tottenham).
"How many chances did we create? We missed a lot of chances and it's deja vu.
"It happens in many, many games, we have a problem to score goals. Today I am happier with the performance of the players, how they did. They played with heart, but we didn't win.
"I am sad for the players again because when we play s**t I said we play s**t. It's not the case for many games. It's a pity because they don't deserve that. Maybe in the future it will make us stronger, these kind of games."