Caley Thistle manager John Robertson hopes his players have learned a valuable lesson from Saturday’s draw with Alloa Athletic.
With Championship leaders Dundee United and second-place Ayr United both suffering defeats, a victory against the Wasps would have taken Inverness to the top of the league.
They were on course for maximum points against Peter Grant’s men having recovered from Liam Buchanan’s early opener to lead 2-1 thanks to goals from Carl Tremarco and Jordan White.
But Alan Trouten snatched a point for Alloa in the 89th minute, leaving Caley Thistle in third spot and a point adrift of Dundee United and Ayr.
Robertson said: “It was a throwback to last season when we got ourselves in front and then conceded a silly late goal.
“It would have been hugely important for us to win the game, reach 19 points and be able to say we were top of the league.
“It would have been great for our reputation if Dundee United, Dundee and Ayr had lost but Caley Thistle had won again.
“We said to the players after the game how important it is to keep working hard and not switch off.
“We still had a chance when James Keatings was desperately unlucky to hit the underside of the bar and on another day we would have won.
“We are disappointed with the performance because it is not even close to how well we have been playing.
“Having dug it out, we should have had the professionalism and strength of character to see that game out.”
Caley Thistle defeated Alloa 3-0 in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup the previous week but Robertson was anticipating a sterner test this time.
“We started the game at too low a tempo. Our midfielders were wanting to drop off and not hurt them with balls forward.
“Our wide men weren’t really causing problems in the key areas,” he said.
“I hoped conceding the early goal would wake us up but we were laboured and our choice of passing was poor.
“We work really hard on our passing and movement but that was non-existent.
“We created one or two chances and I thought young Roddy MacGregor looked lively when we got him on to the ball and into the game.
“The second half was better as we upped the pace and worked really hard to get in front with five minutes to go.
“That is why it was so disappointing that we weren’t able to hold on because that is when you need to be disciplined and controlled.”
The Caley Jags will look to bounce back when they travel to Cappielow on Saturday to face Greenock Morton.