Roberto Mancini insists Manchester United are favourites to win back the Premier League title next season, claiming his City side may finish as low as "third or fourth position".
Mancini earlier expressed his frustration over City's lack of activity in the transfer market this summer. The reigning Premier League champions have been thwarted in their attempts to bring in Arsenal's Robin van Persie, Liverpool's Daniel Agger, Daniele De Rossi of Roma and Eden Hazard, who joined Chelsea from Lille.
Ahead of Sunday's Community Shield showdown at Villa Park, Mancini says the Blues have responded to their Champions League success in positive fashion by signing Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar. As a result, Mancini believes City go into their title defence as underdogs.
"United start as favourites this year," said Mancini. "We are maybe in second, third or fourth position.
"When you win something it is important to improve. But you should not buy new players 10 days from the end of the window. It should be two months. The championship finished on May 13. You needed to buy players before now.
"Now it is difficult because there are some teams who can't sell their players because they don't have time to buy anyone else. The next 20 days is very difficult in the market."
The good news for City is that skipper Vincent Kompany is expected to shrug off a calf complaint in time for the start of the season after flying home early from the club's pre-season tour of Asia.