Pep Guardiola admitted on Wednesday that he must "find a solution" to Manchester City's woes after the Premier League champions were defeated 1-0 at Aston Villa.
At Villa Park, Guardiola's team was rocked by Leon Bailey's second-half winner.
City is now six points behind leader Arsenal after failing to win their fourth consecutive league game.
Villa have risen above them into third place, making the treble winners look more vulnerable than in recent memory.
Guardiola had no immediate explanation for City's recent struggles, which included draws with Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham.
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However, the City manager admitted that he needed to get to the bottom of their alarming blip as soon as possible.
"Six points (behind Arsenal) and we would prefer to be top of the league but we made three draws and lost today," he said.
"In these years, we have found a way to win games, but we struggled a bit and have to find a way.
"It is my job to find a solution. The dynamic changes by winning games. When a team is better you have to recognise it."
Villa outplayed City from start to finish, with Guardiola's team failing to muster a shot on target following Erling Haaland's two quick efforts early in the first half.
Guardiola admitted that City never looked at ease, saying, "Aston Villa played better." We didn't move in possession in the first half, and while we had chances in the second half, we struggled to find the right pass and movements.
"We have scored four or five goals with deflections so it is what it is and we have to accept Aston Villa was better and go to Luton on Sunday."
City's four defeats this season have come without Rodri, who is serving a suspension at Villa Park.
Guardiola stated, "Rodri is an important player, of course, but when he is not there, we have to find a way to win without him."