Mousa Dembele admitted that Tottenham struggled to motivate themselves for their FA Cup tie at Leeds.
Andre Villas-Boas' team, who had earned plaudits for their performance with drawing with Manchester United eight days earlier, crashed out of the competition with a 2-1 defeat to mid-table championship side.
And the Belgium international, who was a substitute at Elland Road, felt his team-mates failed to rouse themselves for what he deemed a no-win game.
"I think that is the most difficult thing in football to try and think like every day you are playing against Manchester United," he said. "To motivate yourself to play good against Manchester United is very easy, you don't have to do anything.
"But against teams like this it is more difficult because you have something to lose and they have everything to win. That is the most difficult thing in football."
Dembele came off the bench in Spurs' second-half comeback but felt Tottenham's difficulties in the first half were attributable to facing lower-league opposition
He added: "I think you have to give extra energy to motivate yourself and so maybe that was a bit of a problem."
The former Fulham player said defeat to Leeds has only increased Tottenham's determination to win the Europa League so they don't end the season without silverware.
"I think we feel we have a lot of quality in our group and we feel we can win something. So it's disappointing that this Cup is over already for us. We another trophy to go for so we will try and get it now," Dembele explained.
Tottenham travel to Norwich on Wednesday night with Dembele likely to partner Scott Parker in the heart of midfield after Sandro was ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Parker missed the first half of the season with an Achilles injury so Dembele is just getting used to playing with the England international.
He said: "I think Sandro did terrific, but I think as well that Scott is a different kind of player. He can be very important for us. I've played a few games with him now and I like his style."