Marco Verratti has admitted that the start of Paris Saint-Germain's season has been "very difficult" as the club looks to recover from their run to the Champions League final.
PSG advanced all the way to their first-ever Champions League final, but fell short 1-0 to Bayern Munich thanks to a goal from Kingsley Coman.
Having played through that tournament in Lisbon all the way through August 23, PSG were then required to jump right back into Ligue 1 with four matches in 10 days starting on September 10.
PSG lost each of their first two games, falling to Lens and then Marseille, before bouncing back with wins over Metz and Nice.
The match against Marseille, in particular, was a setback for PSG, as the game ended with five total red cards and Angel Di Maria later earning a four-game suspension for spitting on an opponent.
Di Maria's incident came following a clash between Neymar and Marseille's Alvaro Gonzalez, who the Brazilian accused of racism, in the aftermath of the match.
The French champions were left short-handed in both losses, with Verratti one of few regulars to feature in those opening games, and the Italian admits that the start to the season has been far from ideal, even if the club is beginning to turn it around.
"It's the first time I've experienced a start to the season like this. Playing a Champions League final on the 23rd and having a match on the 29th, I don't say it as an excuse, but as an observation," he told PSG's official website.
"In the other leagues, it is clear that everyone had time to prepare for the start of the new season. It is necessary to protect the teams that can go far for the French championship, whether it is Paris or another team.
"We already knew, before facing Lens, that we wouldn't be able to play our best. The same for Marseille, even if we wanted to give the maximum. Without a preseason, it was very difficult. Now we're starting to get a little better, little by little we're going to get back to the football we played last season."
Verratti has now made 318 appearances for PSG, with the Italian now among the top five players in club history when it comes to appearances. The midfielder joined PSG joined the club from Pescara in 2012, instantly becoming an integral part in seven Ligue 1 titles.
"It means a lot, to be one of the players who have worn this jersey the most is something beautiful," he said. "It means that we have spent many years together, that we have won many titles, and I'm still young in football, I'm only 27 years old. So I hope to be able to play a lot more, to win even more.
"I wasn't expecting that when I arrived and it's fantastic to experience that here. I want to continue for a long time. To be the most capped player in the history of this club, that would be great.
"I love this club. It has made me grow, it has introduced me to real football, it has offered me everything. I have been able to play great matches, to play with great players, and I am happy here."
PSG are set to face Reims this weekend in their fifth game of the Ligue 1 season.