Diego Simeone praised Lionel Messi's star quality and admitted the difficulties of repeating Atletico Madrid's "impossible" title win of 2013-14.
Messi guided in a superb first-half free-kick to secure a 1-0 victory over Barcelona's nearest title rivals on Sunday, moving the league leaders eight points clear at the top.
It was his 600th career goal and marked a major moment in the Blaugrana's bid to win La Liga.
Simeone claimed the Camp Nou result would have been reversed had Messi been on his side.
"Messi is a special player, he made the difference," the Atleti boss told reporters.
"If we take Messi and put him in an Atletico shirt, we win this match 1-0.
"It was an even match. I don't think we lacked application in the first half. However, we did not see our best until the second half."
Despite being dealt just a second defeat in their 27 league games this term, the Rojiblancos now have only a remote chance of claiming what would be a second title triumph in five seasons.
Simeone was pragmatic about his club's hopes of regularly upsetting the Barca-Real Madrid stronghold.
"We have no doubt that we can get closer to our objectives," he said.
Messi scores 600th career goal
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"What we cannot do is distance ourselves from the numerical reality that Barcelona and Real Madrid have been dominating for 14 years.
"We did the impossible [in 2013-14] and it is hard to repeat that."