The 26-year-old American claimed the world title with the team in 2006, but failed to win a race last season as he struggled to come to terms with the championship's switch to 800cc machinery and the deficiencies of Michelin tyres against the all-dominant Bridgestones.
A renewed effort had been expected by Honda this year in a bid to recover some lost pride, but following the final pre-season test of the winter, which was held in night conditions at Losail in Qatar, Hayden is still deeply unimpressed with the progress made.
"I enjoyed riding at night but conditions are not easy – there's the wind and the track temperature changes a lot," said Hayden after going seventh quickest at the Qatari circuit.
Season 2008
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"We tried race tyres tonight and at the end we tried a couple of qualifiers, we went quicker but we're not where we need to be. We left Jerez feeling really confident but we've been brought back to reality."
His team-mate Dani Pedrosa is still riding with a plate in his right hand after suffering a hairline fracture in a testing crash in Malaysia in January.
He could only go 13th quickest at Losail, but rather than focus on his injury, he instead pointed to a lack of front-end grip from his RCV-212V
"It's been quite a difficult two days here," said the Spaniard. "So far we haven't found the solution to the problems we are having.
"We've tried many different things but at the moment we aren't getting the results we were expecting. The main problem is grip. The tyres are fine, you can see that because the guys with the 2007 Hondas and Michelins are fast, so it's something else."
The season starts back at Losail next weekend with the Qatar Grand Prix.
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