Darren Fletcher expects to be hurting from Manchester United's derby humiliation for some time but is convinced the champions will recover strongly.
United were left reeling as rivals Manchester City underlined their Barclays Premier League title credentials with a sensational 6-1 win at Old Trafford. It was United's heaviest derby loss for 85 years, their worst defeat since 1955 and shattered their 37-game unbeaten home run in all competitions.
Fletcher, who scored United's consolation, told MUTV: "Without doubt we realise how much stick and how much banter there will be for our fans. We know how much it is hurting. We have to live in the city as well so we are going to have to deal with it as well. We are disappointed, really disappointed, but we will have to bounce back."
He added: "It is a problem to bounce back from a scoreline like this - nobody wants to lose by the margin we did. But as I kept re-iterating to the lads after the game, remember how it feels to lose by this scoreline.
"There is a long season to go. There are no medals handed out at this stage of the season. There are still 20-odd games left. It is a bad result losing to Manchester City but this doesn't mean the league is over. We have to respond and win our next game."
United actually made the early running but City gained the upper hand through Mario Balotelli and the hosts were left facing an uphill battle after Jonny Evans was sent off.
Balotelli added a second and Sergio Aguero also netted before Fletcher superbly pulled one back, but United were run ragged in the closing minutes as City struck three times after the 88th minute. Substitute Edin Dzeko hit two with David Silva also on target as City moved five points clear at the top of the league.
Fletcher said: "City are in a great position but Chelsea were in this position last year and were eight or nine clear. They are the team at the top and everyone will be trying to knock them off.
"Maybe we were a bit naive playing to try to win the game when it was conceivably not possible. To lose the goals late on, especially the last two or three, was the disappointing thing.
"The players will learn from that because you do learn from things like this in football."