Caley Thistle manager John Robertson believes last Sunday’s 5-0 Betfred Cup defeat to Hearts should not detract from the progress the Highlanders have made in the last 12 months.
Inverness’ heavy loss eliminated them from the competition at the group stage on goal difference, when a defeat by three goals or less would have been enough for them to progress to the second round.
Robertson arrived back at Caledonian Stadium for a second spell last summer, following the club’s relegation from the Premiership, and despite a slow start which saw Caley Jags win just one of their opening seven league games, a huge improvement saw them miss out on the promotion play-offs by just two points.
The 53-year-old has a win rate of just over 50% having overseen 26 victories, 11 draws and 14 losses in his 51 matches since returning.
Despite last week’s disappointment he feels Caley Jags remain on the right track ahead of tomorrow’s league opener away to Falkirk.
Robertson said: “We’ve talked to the players, looking at last season and this season.
“We’ve played 51 games and Sunday against Hearts was only our 14th defeat. We’ve lost one of our last 16 games.
“That’s the stats we were showing the players. They were really down on Sunday and rightly so, but we’re trying to show them the achievements and the strides they’ve made over the last six months in particular.
“That’s what we want to keep going.
“These are very impressive stats, very impressive victories, for the players and they deserve all the credit for that. That’s the vibes we’ve had this week, talking to them about the goals they’ve scored and the clean sheets they’ve kept.
“While Sunday was disappointing, it is not the end of the world.”
Robertson expects stiffer competition in the second-tier, with Partick Thistle and Highland rivals Ross County coming down from the Premiership to replace newly-promoted St Mirren and Livingston, while Ayr United and Alloa Athletic replace League 1 bound Dumbarton and Brechin City.
Robertson added: “We saw how difficult it was last year and we’ve seen the quality of teams in it this year, not just those coming down but Ayr and Alloa coming up.
“Alloa are the only part-time team in the league now which shows how difficult it is going to be.
“In the last quarter of the league, the business end, is all important. It is like the Grand National. You’ve got to get yourself in position for the finishing run.
“We gave ourselves just a little too much to do last year. We finished very well but were pipped at the post.
“We’ve got to make sure, this year, we’re in a position where we can strike with nine games to go.”