Sylvain Distin insists that Everton's Champions League dream has faded because of a lack of money, dismissing any suggestion that the squad crumbled under pressure.
Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Sunderland, coupled with weekend wins for Arsenal and Tottenham, has effectively ended manager David Moyes' hopes of claiming a top-four Premier League finish this season.
Everton lie in sixth place, six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, with only four games to play.
It is also unlikely that they will gain a Europa League spot - which could only be secured by finishing fifth, a position currently occupied by Tottenham, who are five points ahead of Moyes' side.
Centre-back Distin is adamant that Everton are set to fall short because they do not have the resources to compete with the Premier League's top teams.
And the 35-year-old has brushed aside the idea that Moyes' men could not cope with the pressure of being considered Champions League candidates.
He told the Liverpool Echo: "I don't think people talking about the Champions League or not changes much for us on the pitch.
"What can change is when people get disappointed if you draw against Tottenham or Arsenal, and they expect more. That can go against us if the fans think like that.
"We all dream but we have to keep in mind as well that we fight with such a small squad.
"When we spend £1 million, the teams we compete against spend £20 million.
"You have to remember that. It has been a really good season.
"Clearly at the end of the season when you play three games a week it's a bit difficult, especially for a team like us where we have the same starting 11 most weeks.
"We don't have a big squad. But we never hide behind this excuse.
"Yes, it's difficult but it's not the excuse for why we lost."
Distin's focus now is on a strong finish to the season.
He said: "Winning all our games would have meant we could have kept dreaming and obviously now the dream is going a bit far away.
"We'll see about the Europa League now but no matter what happens, we want to win every remaining game until the end of the season. We missed a good chance against Sunderland but there's always the next game."