Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny admits that players lost faith in themselves and manager Arsene Wenger after a "catastrophic" start to the season.
Koscielny saw Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri exit the club last summer, and things appeared grim for the club following an 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United in August. Arsenal continued their slide into September, at one stage slipping to 17th spot on the Premier League table, before making a stunning comeback to currently sit in third.
"The start of the season was catastrophic," Koscielny told France Football. "We lost key players from our system. There was late recruitment of new players and the mayonnaise needed time to 'take'.
"There was the thrashing at Old Trafford. The whole world buried us. But you don't lose your football like that.
"It can happen that a small grain of sand jams the engine and after that you start to doubt your own qualities, the club, the coach and everything else. We needed to sort that out. Everyone got down to doing just that, the coach, the club.
"The group was not giving enough for the club and we realised that. We got down to work and we said the things we needed to say. After that, one win, two wins, confidence returns and things follow on from that. The new players were immersed in the group and so on."
Koscielny pointed to the derby victory over Tottenham as the turning point in Arsenal's season. The Gunners overcame a two-goal deficit to demolish their rivals 5-2, giving Wenger's men the edge in the race for a place in next season's Champions League.
"I don't want to have regrets," said Koscielny. "If we have a nightmarish start to the season it's because we deserved it. Frankly I want to come out of this season having matured. The season I went through was tough but full of emotions.
"We had pressure, we were five points behind Chelsea and everyone was saying 'the Champions League is finished, Tottenham will win'. But we beat them 5-2 and we put together seven wins. Maybe we didn't dominate all our matches but mentally we had something more.
"At Liverpool for example we always believed and Robin [van Persie] gave us the win at the end of the match."
Indeed, Koscielny credits van Persie for rescuing Arsenal's campaign as the Dutchman put his injury woes of the past behind him to thus far net 37 goals in all competitions.
"For sure we also had Robin van Persie," he said. "It is his season. I'm really happy for him. It's the first time that injuries left him alone and we saw the difference.
"I try not to kick him a lot in training, I go soft with him. We try to be reasonable when you have such a long season."