Caley Thistle manager John Robertson hopes Saturday’s derby encounter against Ross County is the first instalment of a title duel between the two Highland clubs.
Inverness are top of the Championship table after five games, with their 3-2 victory over Partick Thistle on Saturday putting them a point above the Staggies, who drew 0-0 at Queen of the South.
Although Caley Jags hold the upper hand, Robertson wants both teams to maintain their fine early season form in a bid to end the absence of top-flight football from the Highlands.
Robertson said: “I would have been quite happy for County to have won at Queen of the South on Saturday and been top of the league with us going up there.
“We want to get as much distance – both of us – between us and the rest of the teams below, as quickly as possible.
“It’s nice for the fans to be going through there to Dingwall, top of the league. But hopefully on the last day of the season that’s where we will be.
“Both clubs will look forward to the derby. They’ll be confident and comfortable with us coming through there to play them and they’ll want to knock us off our perch.
“That’s one good thing about the rivalry is that we can spur each other on, help each other, by the rivalry being rekindled this season.
“But I’m disappointed County were relegated because I think the region needs one, if not both, of the teams in the Premiership.
“It brings a focus on the area and reminds people there is good football, and good footballers, north of Perth.”
Robertson’s Staggies counterparts Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson are no strangers to the derby from their playing days with the Dingwall club, but will get their first taste of the fixture since they became co-managers in March.
Ferguson is relishing the encounter, and he said: “You want to earn the bragging rights for supporters that work on a Monday. I have always enjoyed playing in them.
“I remember winning 5-1 through there under Alex Smith when John Robertson was the manager there first time around, although it’s not about that for me.
“It’s about creating some new history – it’s the first derby match for Stuart and I as first team managers.
“John has done a fantastic job over the bridge and he has already experienced it, does that make them favourites against a couple of young bucks?
“You can spin it any way you like, but I can’t wait for it.”