Lando Norris has insisted McLaren has to "get used to" its lowly position in F1's pecking order after a troublesome Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Woking-based team arrived in Bahrain for the second test full of optimism after a promising first run-out in Barcelona, only for issues to blight its programme.
At the same venue for the first race weekend of the year, McLaren finished only 14th and 15th without ever looking on pace to challenge for the top 10.
"I am sure it looked just as bad as what it felt," conceded Norris.
"This is where we are, quite simply. We just have to get used to it now.
"Of course, over the last few seasons, just a lot of expectation from us within the team but also everyone else watching and so on and we just haven't got it right at the minute.
"We are a long, long way, not just a little bit but a long way so we have got to kind of start fresh and try and figure some things out and at least try and find solutions.
"Solutions don't mean next week we are going to be amazing but in months to come, we need to understand what is going on here and get better."
Norris "hoping this is as bad as it gets"
F1 is expected to see a developmental race this season as teams rapidly find improvements with the new generation of cars.
With McLaren struggling initially, Norris was asked if he expected the rest of the season to be difficult, replying: "No no, I believe... it is tough but I still believe some tracks will be better for us.
"I am hoping this is as bad as it gets. It might not be but it could be.
"There is a lot of time. We have still got a whole season of development and figuring things out but it is not easy to do so. I think once we figure out what is wrong, it is all about implementing it and bringing upgrades and those parts to the car."
On what the biggest difficulty will be for the team, Norris added: "I think the figuring things out is the hard part, bringing things in the wind tunnel, bringing it out and all that kind of stuff.
"But it could come by a third of the way through the season, half the season, three quarters, I don't want to believe it won't be at all this season.
"I have faith in the team they will be able to do it. They have done it over the last few years, they have made big steps forward so we just need to step back and re-look at everything and move on."