Antonio Conte urged his Tottenham players to give a better account of themselves in the Premier League run-in after being beaten by Brighton on Saturday.
Spurs lost authority in the top four race as Leandro Trossard's late winner gave the Seagulls consecutive wins in north London, having beaten Arsenal last week.
Having scored 12 goals in their previous three games, Spurs looked bereft of ideas against a resolute Brighton side, failing to register a shot on target with Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski all looking off-colour.
After the game, Conte admitted Brighton made things hard for his side.
"For sure not a good result for us," he said. "A lesson that we can learn today that there are games that if you are not able to win you have to not lose. It was very clear that today it wasn't our day.
"It was important to get three points before our rival players in the race for the Champions League but the game was very difficult. It was a tactical game for both sides and Brighton were very good at closing the space.
"We moved the ball slowly. I think that we are able to do much better than today. Perhaps a draw was more fair but Brighton played a good game. If you win against Arsenal and Tottenham away you know it's a good game.
"I think that Brighton were very good to close every space and we were not good in finding the space. In difficulty we have to try to find the solution. Also with a single player but today we can do much better.
"Once you reach a good position in the table then you have to try to keep this position. It's a good experience for us to try to cope with pressure."
Spurs remain fourth after Arsenal's loss to Southampton on Saturday, though Manchester United did close the gap with their own victory over Norwich.
Both of Spurs' rivals play in midweek before Conte's side are back in action. United travel to face Premier League title contenders Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday, while Arsenal visit Chelsea on Wednesday.