Fabio Cannavaro is hoping his Guangzhou Evergrande side will come back from the Chinese Super League's two-month World Cup break mentally refreshed after the seven-time champions dropped further off the pace with a 2-0 loss against Beijing Renhe on Sunday.
Benjamin Moukandjo and Augusto Fernandez scored for the newly promoted side as Evergrande dropped five points behind leaders Shanghai SIPG, who defeated Jiangsu Suning 2-0 to return to the summit ahead of the finals in Russia next month.
Guangzhou remain on 18 points while SIPG moved onto 23 points, ahead of Shandong Luneng on goal difference after the first 11 games of the Chinese Super League season.
"We knew we'd have difficulties before the match," said Cannavaro after his side's third defeat in the league and just days after their demoralising exit from the Asian Champions League at the hands of Kashima Antlers.
"We haven't recovered from the disappointment of being eliminated from the Asian Champions League.
"We gave Beijing two opportunities in the first 20 minutes and they scored both while we didn't score but created enough chances. The players were anxious.
"Now, this break is important for us, although not physically as the players have no problems running. We need to use this chance to clear our minds."
SIPG had goals from Wu Lei and Oscar to thank for their win over a Jiangsu Suning side that has improved markedly since Cosmin Olaroiu replaced Fabio Capello in March.
The win saw SIPG move back ahead of Shandong, who had won against Tianjin Teda on Friday evening.
Elsewhere, Tianjin Quanjian had Alexandre Pato's late goal to thank for picking up all three points against Shanghai Shenhua with a 2-1 win while Dalian Yifang won the battle of the bottom two sides as Bernd Schuster's side defeated Guizhou Zhicheng 2-1 to leave Gregorio Manzano's side rooted to the bottom of the table.