Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists his side are 'better than at the start of the season' despite their dramatic collapse in the Premier League title race.
The Gunners, 6-2 winners at Derby last night, topped the table for six months of the campaign until a miserable run of four draws and a defeat saw their hopes of a first championship in four years slip away.
Mathematically, they can still lift the title but they would need to claim six points from their two remaining games and rely on the unlikely outcome of both Manchester United and Chelsea losing theirs.
Wenger admits his side have paid dearly for a miserable March which saw them surrender a healthy lead at the top of the table, dropping nine points out of a possible 15.
He said: 'I felt at the start of the season nobody expected us to do well.
'We started well and maybe when we came under pressure in March you could see that we did not have the experience to deal with that and I feel we have learned a lot.
'Now that the pressure is gone we are back to our real level and I feel our real level is better than at the start of the season.'
Unfortunately for County, the Gunners' 'real level' far exceeds anything they could conjure up.
Second-half substitute Emmanuel Adebayor grabbed a hat-trick - his second against the relegated Rams this season - to take his tally to 30 for the campaign and Nicklas Bendtner, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott were also on target.
However, Wenger insisted there is still more to come from a side which oozes potential.
'In the second half when Derby were tiring we could have scored more goals,' he added.
'We tried to play well, we had a game based on movement, technique and combination and we nearly respected that 95% of the game, not 100, but there is still room for improvement there.'