Bernardo Silva said Manchester City must regain control after the stuttering Premier League champions fell seven points adrift in the title race.
City have dropped to third in the league following back-to-back defeats after Pep Guardiola's side suffered a shock 2-1 loss at Leicester City on Boxing Day.
The titleholders have uncharacteristically lost three of their last four matches to hand the initiative to rivals Liverpool, who are six points clear atop the standings.
"We lost a little bit of control emotionally," said City star Silva. "I sensed the lads stopped a little bit because we weren't expecting that goal.
"For us to lose two games in a row is not good enough and it's not normal. It's all about character.
"We know things aren't going as we want, but we have to show heart, improve and come back from this."
Guardiola also called on his side to regain their confidence in the wake of the back-to-back defeats.
The Spanish manager says the club must also react to that run of back-to-back defeats, the club's first in more than two years.
Silva and City have the chance to bounce back when they visit a resurgent Southampton on Sunday.
After that comes an all-important clash with Liverpool to kickstart the new year.