Daniel Park insists Cove Rangers are ready to thrive in the unfamiliar role as underdogs.
During Cove’s dominant recent tenure in the Highland League they have been used to winning every week, but the players and management understand that all changes now they are in League 2.
They face Dundee in the Betfred Cup tonight at the Balmoral Stadium, in another step up from the League 1 opposition they have been facing in pre-season.
Back-to-back Highland League title wins and then a play-off triumph over Berwick Rangers earned them a place in the SPFL and with that, different expectations arrive.
Park said: “Last year in the Highland League, bar two or three games, you knew that if you worked hard and applied yourselves, you probably were going to win the game.
“It’ll be nice being the underdogs for a change and trying to be the surprise package. We’re under no illusions that we’re going to win every week but it’s going to be exciting.
“Everyone was annoyed not to take something from the Peterhead game but that just sums us up as a team. We’ll rebound fine – we still have that winning mentality.”
Dundee’s visit to Aberdeen pits manager Paul Hartley against one of his former clubs and given they have recently been relegated from the Premiership, Park is keen to test himself against the Dark Blues.
He added: “It’s definitely another step up. Dundee are a full-time team just down from the Premiership and we know it’ll be tough. We’ll give a good account of ourselves, work hard as always and hopefully create some chances.
“These are the games you want to be involved. To test yourself against full-time teams stands you in good stead for the season ahead, like it did last year. We had a good group last year with Hearts, which set us up for the league.
Park may be required in a striking role again tonight, after filling in for Mitch Megginson there against Peterhead.
Megginson suffered a thigh injury in the opening 15 minutes of Saturday’s game and is a major doubt for Dundee.
Park said: “It was fine – I’ve played there many times before. It was tough against a tough defensive side like Peterhead and I didn’t really have any chances. But Harry (Milne) hit the bar twice and put a good ball across goal that could have been tapped in.”