Manager Mark Hughes accused his Manchester City players of falling well short of the required standard during the 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth.
An angry Hughes hauled off £32million Brazilian Robinho after a below-par display before ripping into his inconsistent side at the final whistle.
Second-half goals from Glen Johnson and Hermann Hreidarsson kept City in ninth place in the Premier League table.
"Today's performance was not anywhere near the level we needed to be," he told the club's official website.
"You have got to roll your sleeves up when you come to places like this to battle and on occasions we were lacking in that respect.
"You have got to be strong and stand up to the challenge, but we allowed them to take the initiative.
"You will concede goals as a result of that and this is the hardest league in the world. At times we forget that, certainly away from home.
"Other teams will not allow you to play, not allow your technically gifted players to have an influence on the game.
"You have to find another way, get a performance from within and take something from every performance.
"Today was a performance where some players did not perform to their capabilities and that is a frustration for everybody.
"This was a setback, but we have to pick ourselves up and make sure we are in better shape for our upcoming games."