Monchengladbach ended last season in fourth position, but the sale of Marco Reus to Borussia Dortmund, Dante to Bayern Munich and Roman Neustadter to Schalke over the summer deprived them of three key players.
Xhaka was one of three players brought in as a replacement, together with Alvaro Dominguez and Luuk de Jong, but he says he was astounded to find a dressing room in a state of depression.
"After I arrived, I heard my new team-mates saying 'we have got to hope that we don't go down'," he said.
"I thought to myself: what kind of a mentality is that? I did not know that from Basle, where everything was about winning."
Gladbach have made a slow start to the season, but victory over Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend has taken them to within two points of the top five.
For Xhaka, the situation of not challenging for silverware is a new one and he admitted he has "suffered my first mini-crisis" with the Foals.
"My career has been very successful so far," he told Switzerland's Tagesanzeiger newspaper.
"In my Basle time, I picked up three titles and it was nothing but positive for two years running, but in Monchengladbach it was something new to me.
"The way I think just is not the same as the way they think in Gladbach.
"I was told by journalists that I should not be so outspoken. I told them 'sorry, that is the way I am, I am not here to fight against relegation'.
"It was a huge transition for me, I work in a different way. I think about how I can win a game and not about how I can not lose it."
This mentality led to a dispute with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen as the players returned to the dressing room at half-time of a Europa League game against Fenerbahce recently.
He has since warned his team-mate not to treat him like a child.
"Not even my parents act with me the way he did," added the 20-year-old.
"He is the same age as me and I don't just accept anything. We had a dispute in the tunnel and I thought I was imagining things.
"We had a discussion the day after and I made it clear that I don't accept everything.
"Then it comes across that I am an arrogant Swiss, but I don't care - I know what I am capable of."