Manchester: Kolo Toure believes his Manchester City team-mates will be stronger for losing the English Premier League title even though he will not be part of the challenge to reclaim it next season.
Bitter rivals Manchester United were confirmed as champions this week after their lead at the top of the table became unassailable.
Already the talk in the blue half of Manchester has focused on how City will wrest the title back off the the Red Devils next season.
City play West Ham on Saturday in their first match since losing the title and Toure, who will leave City at the end of the season when his contract expires, said important lessons have been learnt.
"This club has great players and fans but when you play against a team like United, it is hard. They have been more consistent than us and we have to learn from that," he told a news conference.
"We need to know that to be champions doesn't mean winning it once. You need the right mentality every season and we have learnt that. You can't sleep once you have won something. You then need to go out and do even better.
"This season was tough because the club hadn't won the league for a long time. Everyone was so happy when we won the league that we forgot about the next season.
"We lost a little bit of our quality and a little bit of our concentration, and that cost us. But the guys will get back on that, definitely."
Toure, who joined City from Arsenal in 2009, said he will leave the club with a heavy heart as he seeks a fresh challenge after not being offered a new deal.
"I am going to be sad to leave," said the Ivory Coast defender. "The fans here have been great with me and the manager who brought me here was great with me. But the last two years have been really tough for me.
"I haven't had a lot of games and was working really hard every day. The only chance I got to play was when someone was injured.
"There was no big competition because it didn't matter how hard I was working in training.
"Now I just want to go somewhere to play football and the competition will be right. If I play and someone is better than me, then play him. But if I am better than somebody I want to play."
West Ham can finish as high as eighth place this season if they can continue their unbeaten run, according to manager Sam Allardyce.
"It's an ambitious eighth. I said from the start that our goal was to try and finish mid-table: 10th the very highest would be great," he told reporters.
"We're there with four to go and I don't think we've been lower than 12th all season. Like every team in some period of time you go sometime with only one win but that happens to everyone in that area of the Premier League.
"If it's only one period that's not too bad. We've come out of that bleak spell and are moving into the final throes in a very comfortable position. We can enjoy and relax without detracting from performance."
And he does not think that City finishing runners-up to Manchester United was a disgrace, despite Roberto Mancini's men winning the title last season.
"You're always chasing the master, Sir Alex Ferguson, and he has been the master for so long. It is difficult to sustain success against him," Allardyce added.
"Wherever he has a challenge, he may lose out once but comes back with flying colours. He's had it with Chelsea and before that Arsenal.
"If they (Manchester City) win the FA Cup it's a very good season and they will finish second.
"When you win it for the first time in many years it is very difficult to win it the second time round, no matter how much money you spend. Man City and Roberto will learn from that."