Aston Villa skipper Gareth Barry insists his team are not getting carried away with illusions of European football.
He warned that playing a high-class Arsenal side was enough to remind the team that they have some way to go.
Villa supporters and some commentators have suggested Martin O'Neill's side could finish in the top six or five in the Premier League, but Barry says the players are aware there is still a major task ahead. Three away wins, which featured nine goals, meant huge expectations from the capacity crowd on Saturday and while Villa's performance did not disappoint, the Gunners' first-half masterclass was enough to secure a 2-1 win.
The England midfielder said: "Was Arsenal a wake-up call? I think we know we are not quite there yet and the players were not getting too carried away although sometimes it is hard not to, especially with three away wins in a row.
"The first half was a big lesson. We saw some of the best football seen at Villa Park for a long time but the way we responded was good.
We sat down at half-time, thought about it and took the game to them. We pressed them and, in the end, they were waiting for the final whistle.
"In terms of that style of football, there is probably not a team in the country to touch Arsenal. We showed in the second half how to play them a bit better, we pressed them higher up the pitch and didn't give them the space they had in the first half. We were unlucky not to get the draw, which might have been a fair result.
"The fans were great. It is not often you lose and the fans are still singing, right to the end. They want us to be top-four material and that is a big aim for us. If we fall short, finishing in the top six will still be a great season."
"I am sure the manager realises we need to strengthen the squad in January. It doesn't take a lot to work out that if we get a few injuries or suspensions, we are going to fall a bit short."
The skipper hopes his young side will take confidence from testing Arsenal. He said: "We have Portsmouth on Saturday, a team we need to beat to sustain our challenge for Europe.
"We can't forget about the first half against Arsenal because they gave us a bit of a footballing lesson, but we feel we deserved a draw. We have played the top four now and Arsenal are the most impressive we have seen but, in the second half, we showed that there are ways to beat them. If we can take some of that to the Portsmouth game, then we should be able to sustain our position and even improve it."
* Villa's FA Cup third-round tie against Manchester United will be shown live on BBC1. The kick-off for the match on January 5, the fourth Cup meeting of the sides in the last seven seasons, has been moved to 5.15pm.