Dean Smith: Aston Villa's season not defined by Man City result
Manager Dean Smith says Aston Villa's season "will not be defined" by results against reigning champions Manchester City and league leaders Liverpool.
Sunday's 6-1 home defeat by City was Villa's worst result since 2016.
They are now in the Premier League's bottom three on 21 points, a point behind Watford and West Ham United, who both have a superior goal difference.
"Their three scorers [Riyad Mahrez, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus] cost more than our whole squad," said Smith.
"Two of the sides below us were playing each other [Watford and Bournemouth]. With us against Manchester City, you didn't need to be a betting expert to see we would be in the bottom three today.
"But our season will not be defined playing Manchester City and Liverpool."
Villa had high hopes of a respectable finish on their return to the top flight this season after a three-year absence.
The club spent £130m on 12 players to bolster Smith's squad but, following season-ending knee injuries to first-choice striker Wesley and goalkeeper Tom Heaton on New Year's Day, they are trying to find replacements who will ensure they do not immediately return to the Championship.
Former Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina, 37, was at Villa Park for the Manchester City game and is expected to complete a loan move from Italian side AC Milan in the next 24 hours.
Villa remain on the hunt for a striker and gave a debut to midfielder Danny Drinkwater against City. The 28-year-old, capped three times by England, has joined on loan from Chelsea after Burnley cut short a temporary deal with them.
Drinkwater, who has only played three games in 17 months, was at fault for City's first two goals and looked off the pace as Villa struggled.
"Danny will make us a better team," said Smith. "He has looked good in training and he got 75 minutes today, which he needed. He was not the reason we lost 6-1."
Smith said if Villa "will cope" if they fail in their striker search.
However, they have only scored more than once three times in 13 Premier League games and conceded 23 in their past nine - a run that has included one clean sheet - so there are clear issues to address at both ends of the pitch.
After Saturday's trip to Brighton, they face crucial games against Watford and Bournemouth. Looking further ahead, Villa's last game of the season is at West Ham, another of the clubs in a perilous position near the bottom of the table.
"We are a proud club," said Smith, a lifelong Villa fan. "Standing there at 6-0 was not a pretty picture.
"In the end, it was a containment job against a far superior team, but we were contributors to our own downfall and their third goal summed up the game.
"They make 20 passes without any physical contact and when Aguero puts it into the top corner, there is no-one within three or four yards."