Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell has challenged his players to cope with a greater burden of expectation at Kilmarnock today.
County make the trip to Rugby Park on the back of defeats by the Old Firm inside of a week, conceding five goals without reply over the two matches.
However, the Staggies drew plaudits for both displays.
Now Kettlewell wants his players to seize the chance to pile more misery on a Kilmarnock side which has lost seven successive league matches, leaving them a point above the ninth-placed Staggies.
He said: “It’s never a fair fight with ourselves and Rangers and Celtic. We all know the financial deficit that is there but I am not playing on that.
“We had a few people sweating with the chances we had, so we can bridge the gap with spirit, togetherness and quality.
“You can get a result but those aren’t games we are expected to win – we do look at the games against teams with a similar background to us.”
County’s trip to Ayrshire marks their third away match in the space of a week, however, Kettlewell insists the harsh scheduling will not be used as an excuse.
He said: “We always look to use adversity as motivation.
“When people start saying to us something is the worst scenario, the natural thing is to complain and moan.
“We tend to go the other way and lay the gauntlet down to ourselves – can we be at our best to come up with the right formation as coaches to get a result? We also challenge the players to deal with a tough situation.
“It doesn’t matter what we think, this is the fixture list and if we can come up with a result we’d be looking back at good performances and points in a tough run.”
County were boosted by the return of midfielder Ross Draper from a three-month knee injury lay-off in the 2-0 defeat at Ibrox on Wednesday but Kettlewell hinted the Englishman could play a limited role on Killie’s artificial surface.
He added: “Ross played 60 minutes for the reserves on Monday and got 20 minutes at Ibrox.
“He is a huge character for us and is a voice in the middle of the togetherness we have in the squad.
“Ross is a proper man in the way he plays and the squad has a huge amount of respect for him.
“He is a big part of this team but we will need to watch him on the artificial pitch, given the nature of his injury.
“Ross has bone bruising and we will need to manage him through it.”