Solskjaer's team were knocked out of the competition in the group stages but the Norwegian insists the results prove the gap is not that big.
"The reality is we are in the Europa League and they are in the Champions League, that is the reality," Solskjaer said.
"But when you sit and watch the games and you know how well you've done against these teams, you know we are not a million miles away.
"It is about consistency. It's sometimes little details go against you, fine margins go against you, we would love to have been going through the group stage. I felt we had done enough at one point but we just couldn't get it over line.
"Now it's about improving again and taking inspiration from good performances against them and learning from the bad performances and results we have had."
Solskjaer said a late title challenge is "not realistic" despite City's slip up against Leeds but believes finishing second for the first time since 2018 is vital to show his team is moving in the right direction.
"You've got to make progress, step by step. If we can manage second place and keep winning and get second, if Man City win all games and we win ours, you want to finish strongly," Solskjaer added.
"Third last year, second this, close to a trophy. It's progress. It's not the end game; the end game is winning the league.
"But it's progress, step by step, and if we do that well enough, that is when you get trophies and league titles which, of course, is our ambition is for titles."
Rashford did not train on Tuesday or Wednesday but made himself available as a substitute while he manages an ongoing foot injury.
"It was a bit of a bonus he didn't have to put any pressure on himself," Solskjaer said.
"I've got to hope he'll be available and not make it worse. That is the decision I have to make. Fingers crossed. He wasn't due to be on bench but just in case he put his hand up and said if needed I can do a job.
"It is a decision I have to make on Sunday morning. He is important for us. It is a difficult one. I have to go by how he feels in a couple of days."