I don't think there was a moment Sony hyped this to be like Game Pass. We were told from the beginning it was essentially a PS+ and PSNow merge and not much else. If anyone expecting this to be like Game Pass, that's on them.
I think this is ignoring the realities we live in. If Sony placed it explicitly as GamePass competitor or not does not matter. In a world there Gamepass exists, such a service has to be compared to it. Because at the end Sony wants people to subscribe to the service. And if they want to do that, they will check their options. So if Sony made an official statement about Gamepass or not does not matter at all. Internally Sony will know that it will be judged against it.