Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos described his side's goalless draw against Osasuna as "bittersweet" as the title hopefuls missed the chance to replace Barcelona at the top of the Primera Division standings.
With Barca being held to a 1-1 draw at home by Villarreal the previous evening, Madrid could have edged above their arch rivals with a three-point haul at Osasuna, but it was not to be as Manuel Pellegrini`s men were forced to settle for a draw.
Bearing in mind, though, that Osasuna also held Barca 1-1 at their Reyno de Navarra home earlier this campaign and defeated both Barca and Madrid in the final two games of last season, the Whites know it could have been a lot worse for them in Pamplona.
Ramos said: "Although we are happy, we've been left with a bittersweet taste in the mouth. We need to be realistic. We knew this was a tough venue.
"We've had a good game, we gave our all and our attitude was very good. It's important to continue picking up points. I think we played well in the first half. It took us a while to have possession, but once we did we clearly dominated."
Madrid finished 2009 with six wins in seven games and thumped Real Zaragoza 6-0 in their final outing, and Ramos added: "They had some chances, but we didn't feel that we were lacking the rhythm we had before the Christmas break."
Ramos' defensive team-mate Ezequiel Garay felt his side had done enough to win the match.
"We are going away with a bitter taste because we could have been leaders. I think the draw was unfair on us," he said on the club's official website.
"We could have taken the three points, but this is a complicated ground and the game was very stop-start. Now we have to focus on taking three points in our next game."