The British-based team will have upgrades this weekend in Barcelona.
He told reporters the main issue with the uncompetitive MP4-28 has been the correlation of information between the wind tunnel and the track.
"I'm sure," said Neale, "if we sat down and had a quiet conversation with our colleagues in Italy and said 'how did the first quarter of last season feel for you?', they would understand with some clarity what we're going through at the moment."
McLaren is unveiling a big package of upgrades this weekend in Barcelona, but Neale is keen to play down expectations.
"Setting ourselves up for a blow on the chin from you (reporters) isn't very funny," he said.