Ross County manager Jim McIntyre is determined to make amends for last season’s embarrassing League Cup demise.
Failing to defend the trophy success of March 2016, then-holders County finished a poor third behind Alloa and Raith Rovers in the first run of the competition’s revamped group format.
The Staggies took a bloody nose in the 3-2 defeat to Alloa at the Indodrill Stadium, as well as being held to a draw at home by the Kirkcaldy club.
County open the campaign at home to Jim Goodwin’s Alloa on Saturday, before a Tuesday night trip to Montrose.
The following Friday evening, newly-promoted Hibernian are visitors for an all-Premiership match and McIntyre’s men then complete the group matches away to Arbroath on July 29.
The Staggies’ manager, pictured, said: “There’s no question, we need to do better in the group games. We certainly should have got ourselves through the group last season.
“We didn’t and that was our fault. I don’t think it was anything to do with our preparations. Our work has been the same this pre-season, but we’ve added one more game, against St Mirren behind closed doors.
“Last season we should still have dealt with the situations that arose in matches such as the Alloa game and been good enough to win it.
“We want to make up for that.
“We want to make sure we come out of that qualifying group and into the next round. That’s the job in the cup competitions.
“Last year was poor, especially being the holders. It was embarrassing.
“We want to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but I think there were four or five teams that were caught out.”
McIntyre also knows the quest to finish top of the group and ensure progress to the knockout rounds is made more difficult by the presence of Championship winners Hibernian in the section.
He said: “When a club is not fully up to speed – and it’s hard to be at this time of the year – is it can be a bit of a leveller.
“But we know what the format is all about and it is my job to get the team ready – and I feel we are ready.
“It is a tough group, having another Premier League side in it but Hibs were a Championship side last year and that’s how the draw has worked out.”
The Staggies have dropped their interest in former Celtic and Blackpool midfielder John Herron.
The 23-year-old had been on trial with the club.