Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley was pleased with how his depleted side acquitted themselves in their defeat at Hearts.
Cove gave a decent account of themselves at Tynecastle given their Covid issues, going down 3-0 in the capital in their second Premier Sports Cup fixture.
Andy Halliday and Liam Boyce had the home side two up at the interval, with Gary Mackay-Steven adding a third in the second half.
Hartley was returning to the ground where he spent four years as a player and was pleased with the account his players gave.
He said: “It was a hard game for us. It’s good minutes in the players legs. We’ve not played any pre-season games and that’s only our second competitive game. It was a good workout for us.
“You could see it on Saturday and you could see it tonight. We only had three outfield players on the bench. We’ll get some players back this week but as long as we’re fine for the 31st – these games were always going to be about pre-season and staying injury-free if they can.
“We’re not the only club that’s suffered through Covid. Some teams haven’t even played.”
The game at Tynecastle was played in front of 1,983 supporters, the first crowd Hearts had seen in 494 days.
Halliday gave them the lead after 11 minutes, firing in from the edge of the box, while Boyce added a second after a Michael Smith cross was punched into his path.
Mackay-Steven rounded off the scoring in the second period, capitalising on Iain Vigurs being caught in possession with a composed finish.
Goalkeeper Kyle Gourlay kept the score down with a number of impressive saves, in what was his first game for the club, while Harry Milne also got more minutes under his belt in his comeback from an ankle injury.
Hartley said: “We’ve got some good players there. We play in the right manner and we never gave in. The attitude was good.
“You won’t come across many better teams in our division than Hearts, the way they play. They’ve got a strong team but for us it was getting minutes under the players’ belt.
Scott Ross did limp off after the break but Hartley is hopeful he will be ready for Saturday’s game against Peterhead.
He added: “It’s just cramp – they’re sore. It’s not been easy but you’ve just got to get on with it and keep plugging away.”