Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says his side need Sergio Aguero to return to full fitness, but is ready to be patient over the striker's comeback from injury in order to avoid further setbacks.
Aguero, who was out for five months after undergoing knee surgery on an injury sustained in the early stages of last season's restart, made only three appearances this campaign before picking up a hamstring injury.
Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Tottenham made it one win in three matches for City, who have failed to score more than once in a single Premier League match since September's 5-2 defeat by Leicester.
Guardiola knows a fit and firing Aguero will be crucial to reviving City's domestic campaign, but warns he will have to be cautious over how he uses the 32-year-old once he recovers.
"I'm not going to say that we don't need Sergio, we need him," said Guardiola after the reverse at Spurs.
"But Sergio, who is 32, was out for five months with a dangerous and difficult injury. He came back and played 50 or 55 minutes and he is injured again.
"We want him and I want Sergio fit because I'm not just discovering now how important he is for us.
"But we have to be careful [to make sure he does] not come back and get injured again. You have to see the right moment to put him in again and hopefully it can be soon and he can maintain the regularity to play games."
Tottenham made a big title statement as a vintage Jose Mourinho operation saw them beat Manchester City 2-0.
Spurs had just 33 per cent possession and four shots to City's 22, but once again came away with victory against Pep Guardiola's City in a clinical smash-and-grab show at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
During a lively opening, Spurs took the lead as Heung-Min Son tucked under Ederson from the edge of the box after Tanguy Ndombele's chipped pass caught out a high City line (5). It was Spurs' only shot on goal in the first 59 minutes as Mourinho's side soaked up City pressure.
Despite some City half-chances either side of the break, Mourinho's approach continued to work as they snatched a second, man-of-the-match Harry Kane turning brilliantly on halfway and feeding Giovani Lo Celso to finish under Ederson again just 35 seconds after coming on (65).
City were ragged thereon as Spurs closed out victory, and the result means Mourinho, celebrating one year at Spurs, sees his side sit atop the Premier League for 24 hours at least. City's poor start continues, sitting 10th with just 12 points from eight games.