McLaren has defended the 'aggressive' design of its 2018 car.
Even after dumping Honda, the British team is still the team that endured the most troubled 2018 winter.
Many believe that the problem can be traced to the aggressive packaging of the orange car, with burn marks and emergency venting seen at the back of the engine cover.
However, team boss Eric Boullier insisted: "If you want to get back to the front, you have to develop aggressively.
"We have an ambitious design that will eventually pay off."
The result of the troubled winter, however, is that Boullier cannot even guarantee a race finish in Melbourne.
"We have not done enough for that," he said. "We cannot say with certainty that we have already seen all of the problem areas."
Yet Boullier says there are positive signs, including that Fernando Alonso "is happy with the balance".
"He says he has seen enough to judge the car," the Frenchman added. "It's not enough for the engineers, of course. They want to see more data."
However, Boullier says there are strong signs that McLaren is in the fight somewhere behind the 'big three' teams, with Renault and Haas believed to be leading that group.
"At the front are Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari," he said. "The group behind them has moved closer together, and we're in the middle of that."
Boullier therefore rejected the claims of some pundits and fans that even after Honda, McLaren remains in crisis.
"I propose to return to this conversation after the first three races of the season," said Boullier.
The season kicks off in Melbourne in two weeks' time.