Marco Reus says Borussia Dortmund have to start replicating Bayern Munich's ability to win when they're not playing well, if they're serious about dethroning the record champions in 2021/22.
They beat eventual runners-up RB Leipzig home, away and in the DFB Cup final, but lost all three of their meetings against Bayern. There were also unexpected slip-ups against relegation-threatened Cologne and Mainz.
"It's down to us," said Reus at a pre-season media event ahead of the 2021/22 campaign. "We need to show consistency because Bayern are the team to beat, and everything has to fall into place over the course of a season to topple them.
"They win matches even when they're not playing well. We weren't able to do that last season. We need to start winning ugly - to find a way to win when we're not playing well. Bayern have been able to do that. That's why they've won so many titles over the years."
Watch: Find out what's on the menu for Borussia Dortmund in 2021/22
Dortmund won the last of their five Bundesliga titles to date in 2011/12, prior to Reus' return to his boyhood club from Borussia Mönchengladbach. Since then, Bayern have been crowned champions a record nine times in a row.
BVB have finished runners-up in six of those nine campaigns, including in 2018/19 when they fell two points short of glory, despite at one point holding a nine-point lead.
Last term, the Black-Yellows ranked third, some 14 points adrift of the 30-time Bundesliga winners.
Under the tutelage of new head coach Marco Rose, Dortmund will attempt to close the gap when they kick off the new season at home to Eintracht Frankfurt. Either side of their Bundesliga opener, BVB travel to lower-league Wehen Wiesbaden in the DFB Cup first round and host Bayern in the Supercup.
The 2021/22 campaign marks Reus' 10th as a senior Dortmund player. The 32-year-old - who ruled himself out of Germany's UEFA Euro 2020 squad to allow his body to recover - has registered 140 goals and 96 assists in 315 appearances for the club.