Aberdeen captain Ryan Jack warned his side must respond to the challenge after failing to close the gap on Rangers in the race for second spot in the Scottish Premiership.
The Dons missed out on the chance to reduce the seven-point gap on the Gers as they lost to 10-man Ross County at Victoria Park on Saturday.
The defeat, coupled with Rangers’ 2-1 win at Hamilton on Friday, leaves the Dons seven adrift with a game in hand and Jack knows his side must react before the gap widens.
He said: “We’ve got a challenge on our hands. Rangers are seven points clear and have made a statement they are going to be pushing for second place.
“We have to have an answer to it and show we welcome the challenge and will meet it head on.
“Come Motherwell on Friday we have to come out strong and show we want to secure second spot.”
Jack insists there is no despondency within the squad and added: “We’re not at the halfway mark of the season yet and there are still a lot of points to be played for. We have to play Rangers twice more, but we have to show a reaction and show we are up for this.
“We knew Rangers would be a good side with the players they have and the philosophy of Mark Warburton, but that is what we wanted. We wanted the challenge.
“We’re seven points behind and the challenge is there for us now but I know we have the players and the character to respond.”
The Dons let County off the hook in a frantic game at Victoria Park with the visitors seemingly set for victory after Niall McGinn’s equaliser had cancelled out Liam Boyce’s opener and the hosts were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Kenny van der Weg.
However, Ryan Dow’s late goal ensured it was the home side who were celebrating victory.
Jack said: “We had control for three quarters of the game and we didn’t feel in any real trouble, but both goals we conceded were preventable and we’re disappointed with that.
“When we did get the ball in the final third it was all a bit rushed and we were snatching at chances and missing the target, but we will get back into the training ground and work hard on putting it right.
“We knew it was going to be a frantic game and there would be a lot of moving the ball on, doing the dirty side of the game, but we found ourselves 1-0 down.
“Our reaction was great in the second half and we deservedly equalised, but it is frustrating we had County on their knees and didn’t make the most of it.”