Gerard Pique says for the first time since he joined Barcelona he feels inferior to Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane's side claimed the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday.
First-half goals from Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema, coupled with Sunday's 3-1 victory at Camp Nou, saw Madrid canter to a 5-1 aggregate win, securing the club's seventh trophy since Zidane took charge.
Pique, who was taken off in the second half with an injury and will undergo tests on Thursday, subsequently conceded that Barca are struggling on and off the pitch.
"In the nine years I've been [at Barca], it's the first time I feel inferior to Madrid," Pique told reporters after the defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu.
"We're not having our best time as a team or a club. We should all be as close to each other as possible and move forward.
"We must live with this defeat and accept that Madrid are better than us [at the moment], but the season's very long and there's room for improvement."
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, meanwhile, admitted that the club have been rocked by a preseason which saw them lose Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million.
"You will always encounter difficulties [in football]," Valverde said in his postgame news conference.
"In three days you can run into trouble. There were things that happened in preseason that affected the balance within the team, things which we must correct, or work on to find another balance.
"There is nothing else to do than recover our spirits now and look forward. What we need to do is win. Everything changes with a victory."