Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds is not fooled by Dunfermline’s poor start to the Championship season and reckons they will still be in promotion contention come the end of the campaign.
The Pars have taken just a solitary point from their opening five league matches, and sit bottom of the table.
Having been widely tipped for promotion, the slow start has brought early pressure on new manager Peter Grant.
It contrasts starkly with Inverness’ early season form, with Dodds leading the Highlanders to the top of the league with five straight victories.
Dodds is refusing to read into the table ahead of the trip to Fife on Saturday, and he said: “I watched them against Ayr United and I thought they were unlucky as they had chances in the game.
“I listened to Peter Grant after the game, he said they missed chances and got punished for making mistakes, and that’s exactly what I saw.
“This is a dangerous game for us, they are one of the teams that were tipped to be up there after reaching the play-offs last season.
“I think they will still be there, but they need to get a run on to get back in it.
“They are one of the teams we are gauging ourselves on. They will know they have not started the season well, but they are a good side and we have to be at it.
“Even though they are bottom and we are top, take my word for it, anybody can beat anybody in this Championship.”
Dodds believes the Highlanders can capitalise on Dunfermline’s vulnerability, but insists they cannot take anything for granted.
He added: “I will be mentioning if we are not at it and guarded, it won’t be easy and anyone can beat anyone.
“Every word I am using now I will be using to the players, but I will also be mentioning they will be vulnerable so we have to make sure we do the right things.
“They will be under pressure because their fans aren’t happy at this moment in time, but I don’t want to get caught up too much with Dunfermline. We know what we have to do and they are a tough opponent.
“If we think we will turn up at East End Park and just get three points because we have five wins on the bounce, then we’re kidding ourselves on.
“I don’t think my players will have that mental approach anyway, but it is right to bring it up. We have to look at every side of the game. I am guarded, but also looking to where we can hurt them.”
Two of Inverness’ early-season chasers go head to head when Partick Thistle host second-placed Kilmarnock, however Dodds insists he will not allow his focus to drift away from East End Park.
He added: “I have never looked at half time to see results, I look at the end to see where we are and that’s how I handle it.
“If you get caught up having a sneak looking at half time it is the wrong thing to do, it can get into your mind and focus on the wrong thing instead of your team.”
Dodds has bolstered his backroom team by bringing in Fraser Gorman as Caley Jags’ new video analyst, with the pair having previously worked together at Ross County.