McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh admits his team has been hit hard by the regulation changes introduced for this weekend's British Grand Prix.
The Woking-based squad seemed to be one of the most affected by the changes to the blown diffuser rules, with Jenson Button qualifying in fifth over 1.5 seconds off pole position.
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton finished down in tenth nearly two seconds off the pace.
Whitmarsh conceded his team expected to be hit by the changes, and said McLaren has probably not responded well to them.
"I think we can bore everyone silly about diffusers, exhaust gases, etc," said Whitmarsh. "The fact is that the last 18 months everyone has been working hard to develop exhaust blown diffusers.
"We've worked particularly hard in that area and we have had lots of twists and turns and changes, and the fact is that during the course of this weekend there have been some changes and we did not put on a competitive showing in qualifying and we know that. Do we know precisely why? Not entirely. But I think it is reasonable to assume that in all those changes, we haven't been able to respond to them or the impact on us was greater.
"To go from what looked like a competitive car to what looked like a fairly uncompetitive one, there is no magic. That is what has happened. We understand that and we accept it."
Whitmarsh is adamant that McLaren will not give up on this year's championship, although he admitted the focus must be on trying to regain its competitiveness as soon as possible.
He added: "We suspected we were going to get hurt and based on the evidence so far we definitely have been but whatever the rules are, we will adapt and we will compete. We are not giving up, we are not going to give up tomorrow and we are not going to give up on this championship. We are going to try and win races.
"Realistically that is what we are going to try and concentrate on. Do we concentrate on trying to win the championship? Well, frankly at the moment that is probably the wrong focus. It is trying to get back to being as competitive as quickly as possible, win races and see where it goes from there."
The team boss said he is staying realistic about his drivers' chances for the race tomorrow, but he reckons a wet race could help them.
"Tomorrow in terms of strategy maybe we want a bit of rain, maybe we want some confusion, but we are also realistic," he said. "On evidence of today in qualifying our car is not quick enough - that is how it is.
"On the other hand we are a strong team with two great team players. We are not going to be content until we recover. Can we recover quickly enough? From what I am told the rules are going to change again for two weeks' time, maybe the pendulum swings back, maybe it doesn't, but whatever is served to us we are going to be tough enough and resilient enough to power through and that is what we do as a team."