Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has insisted the team's troubles this year have been less painful than the previous season's Abu Dhabi title decider.
Lewis Hamilton saw an eighth world championship slip away after a controversial safety car period late in last year's Yas Marina race gave Max Verstappen the impetus to make a last-lap move for the title.
Wolff and Hamilton were left with a feeling of manipulation by the FIA with the scars still showing in the current campaign.
But there has been no fightback from the Silver Arrows with numerous car issues leaving the team behind Red Bull and Ferrari, with George Russell picking up a solitary victory in Brazil.
Asked which campaign was more painful, Wolff said: "Last year was much worse.
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"The situation and that one event [were] much worse than the whole season because last year it was taken away by something [that was] not our wrongdoing.
"Last year was strong, and how it ended, within a couple of seconds, we knew that's it, and it's out of your control, out of your hands.
"Losing control, that's the first time since I was an adolescent, and in my sense of fairness, that was totally against my values.
"This year we lost it on merit. We just weren't good enough."
Instead conceding that Mercedes' lack of performance made it easier to accept the failings this time around, Wolff added: "This year was not as peaky, in terms of the emotions, because we knew from the get-go, from the beginning that the car was just not good enough.
"Slowly but surely we understood. You peel one layer of the onion off and you think it's solved the problem but then there's the next one and the next one.
"Then we started to correlate where this car, which was not a good one, could perform and we had to concentrate on these tracks, knowing the more difficult ones like Abu Dhabi were, in a way, damage limitation.
"And we know it was our doing. Last year, Abu Dhabi wasn't our doing.
"We knew we had got it wrong. Others did a better job and this is an absolute meritocracy how this season panned out, so that is okay."