Barcelona defender Gerard Pique says he feels "inferior" to Real Madrid for the first time after his side were comfortably defeated by their arch-rivals in the Spanish Super Cup.
Madrid won 2-0 at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night to complete a 5-1 aggregate win, and Zinedine Zidane was able to leave Gareth Bale and Isco on the bench despite the suspension of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Barca's only goal across the two legs came from the penalty spot and they are believed to be in the market for Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele, following the stunning departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain.
Pique said after the loss: "This a long process and there is room for improvement, but in the nine years that I have been here, it is the first time that I feel inferior to Madrid.
"We are not in the best moment, either as a team or as a club. We must stay as close as possible and keep moving forwards."
Coach Ernesto Valverde is still settling in at his new club but appears to have a big task on his hands.
"When you lose and you have the feeling that the opponent has, in some moments, been better, you have to analyse the technical aspects," he said.
"We wanted to win, but it could not be.
"We have to recover psychologically. We have to adapt because things have changed."
Valverde said he did not know if or when Coutinho and Dembele might arrive after the club's general manager Pep Segura said their signings were "close".
While Barca are experiencing difficulties, European and Spanish champions Madrid march on, with Zidane collecting his seventh trophy since taking charge of the team in January 2016.
"I'm pleased with how we're doing things, and in particular with how we're playing," he said.
"The first 15 or 20 minutes were spectacular in pressing high up and how we kept hold of the ball. It was a very good first half.
"In the second half we had to dig in a bit because this opposition can cause you problems, that's to be expected.
"We wanted to play just as we did and when things go to plan you're happy. The players were fantastic.
"We're not going to get euphoric, this is a long-run thing and we'll enjoy the moment".