Harry Redknapp believes injuries are responsible for Tottenham's inconsistencies of late.
The Spurs boss was acutely aware that the 2010/11 campaign would be a tough one for his side, as they look to juggle domestic and continental commitments.
At present they are yet to get to grips with the demands of Premier League action at the weekend and UEFA Champions League fixtures in midweek.
Their last outing at Bolton highlighted this, with a 4-2 reverse against the Trotters coming on the back of a spectacular 3-1 win over reigning European champions Inter Milan.
Injuries to key men such as Ledley King, Jermain Defoe and Rafael van der Vaart have hardly helped Spurs' cause, and Redknapp believes any side would struggle without their star turns.
"It takes a toll in terms of picking up the injuries," he said.
"When you lose three or four players, it very difficult; it's hard to be as good as you are when everybody's fit."
Using the Chelsea team beaten 2-0 at Liverpool on Sunday to illustrate his point, Redknapp added: "You look at Chelsea without (Frank) Lampard, (Michael) Essien, (Didier) Drogba. Suddenly, they're a different team.
"When Liverpool don't have (Steven) Gerrard or (Fernando) Torres or key players there, they're a different team.
"Every team is the same, and we've had our share recently. One or two vital players, when they come back, you get stronger again; that's how it works."
Redknapp is expected to again be without Van der Vaart against Sunderland on Tuesday, with the Dutch playmaker still nursing a hamstring strain.
"He wants to see how he feels this morning (Monday) but I still think he'd be doubtful," he said.
"You can't take a chance and he tears it and he's out for six weeks or something."
Van der Vaart's return will be crucial to Tottenham's ambitions, as Redknapp admits the club are desperate to replicate last season's top-four heroics.
He said: "If we're all realistic, a top-four finish is what you're looking for and, if you're doing that, you want Liverpool out the way.
"Man City are definitely stronger than last year; they've improved, bought some big players.
"People wrote Liverpool off a few weeks ago; I thought that was nonsense because they were always going to come good.
"To keep them out of the top four is going to be difficult again this year."