John Robertson will pit his wits against a former pupil today – but also a managerial adversity he rates as a natural in the technical area.
Brechin player-manager Darren Dods was one of the Caley Thistle manager’s signings in the summer of 2004 and went on to make more than a century of appearances for the Highland club.
Robertson’s second coming at Inverness kicks off today in the League Cup group stages with the hosts clear favourites against a team which was two leagues below them last season.
Now Championship rivals, Robertson has nothing but respect both for Dods and the team who pipped Alloa and Raith Rovers in the play-offs to win promotion from League One last season.
Robertson said: “Darren has taken to management like a duck to water.
“What you get from his teams are what you got from him as a player. He’s a big honest lad and he’s got a team of players who want to play football and cause the opposition problems.
“They’ll give a very good account of themselves in the Championship.
“Darren will want to make a statement that Brechin aren’t going to be cannon fodder for anyone in this league and look to do what Dumbarton have done, which is earn the respect of everyone.
“They’ve certainly got our respect.”
Robertson would, ideally, have more time to prepare for the season’s curtain-raiser, having inherited a depleted squad for which he has already added eight signings.
That much was evident on a difficult day at Borough Briggs last weekend, where the League 2 side won narrowly.
The Caley Thistle manager stressed: “It’s a question of building up fitness and sharpness. We looked a bit leggy in the second half against Elgin, perhaps because of the double sessions and the fact we didn’t have any strikers to play.
“You’ve got to learn lessons from that. I’d far prefer seeing that happen in a friendly than for 45 minutes against Brechin.
“Our players have taken the sharpness up a level in training this week and we should be in a better physical and mental frame for the two games in these next few days.”
Robertson will have to do it without former West Brom forward Zak Elbouzedi, who, just a couple of weeks into his Caley Thistle career, is set for up to a two-month lay-off after damaging cartilage in his ankle. Goalkeepers Owain Fon Williams and Cammy Mackay also miss out through injury.