Kolo Toure believes Manchester City are on track to challenge the top four following Sunday's derby defeat.
Manchester United took the local bragging rights with an incredible 4-3 success at Old Trafford, Michael Owen grabbing the winner deep into stoppage time.
City had looked set to claim a point when Craig Bellamy drew them level for a third time in the 90th minute and Toure admits it was bitterly disappointing to concede a fourth.
However, the Ivory Coast international was delighted with the character that his team-mates showed and feels the 'big boys' will be more wary of City in the future.
"We are disappointed to leave here with nothing, but that shows how far this club has come," Toure told skysports.com.
"We showed here we have the spirit to come back in the big games. It does not always happen that you come to Old Trafford and come back three times and lose in the dying second.
"We showed to everyone today we have the qualities and the spirit to mix it up with the big boys."