Blair Spittal is confident there is better to come from Ross County as the squad beds in after a summer of squad upheaval and a highly-demanding first six fixtures.
The Staggies’ stand-in captain saw plenty of cause for optimism in the Premiership campaign after his brilliantly-taken double secured a draw with Hearts.
After 28 personnel changes, in and out, new manager Malky Mackay has steered his team to three results against, arguably, the six best teams in the country.
A first win eludes the Dingwall team, but draws against St Johnstone, Aberdeen and now the Tynecastle club have been complemented by decent spells in defeats to Celtic, Rangers and Hibs.
With five games looming now against teams more likely to be around them in the Premiership table, County have it all to prove.
Spittal said: “It’s a big transition period for the club and you can start to see players bed in.
“We are starting to create chances and impose our style on other teams. You saw that a bit against Hearts.
“It was disappointing that we didn’t manage to hold on in the second half, but we did well to get the point.
“I think we frustrated Hearts in the first half and caught them well on the counter. That’s something we worked on in training.
“In the second half, we took a wee step back and that maybe has something to do with us not having won a league game so far. It’s something we have to eradicate.
“The manager was talking after the game about us having more belief in ourselves to take that step forward, instead of taking a couple of steps back and inviting pressure on to us.
“Towards the end Hearts were going all out to win, but to be fair we dealt really well with that.
“After they got the equaliser, they didn’t have too many clear cut chances. We also had chances, myself included.”
This time last year, Spittal’s County career looked to be over.
The 25-year-old fell out of favour under Stuart Kettlewell’s management and was farmed out to League One Partick Thistle.
He returned north in January under John Hughes, dropping out again at times in March and April, before an impressive flourish of form as County secured safety from relegation.
Spittal, who exited the second half with a quad muscle injury, has been happy with his performances while deputising for captain Keith Watson, but, like the team in general, believes there is room for improvement.
He stressed: “It was good to get off the mark in the league.
“I’m enjoying the captaincy. I spoke to the manager and know what he expects of me.
“Obviously I can do better, and he expects more from me as well.”
“The manager also spoke to me after the Celtic game, where I missed a good chance, about setting myself up properly.
“I was quite frustrated and he said it’s important to keep my head down when I get in position and make sure I hit the target.
“I scored two against Montrose in the League Cup, but getting goals from midfield is something I know I’ve got more of in my game.
“It’s about getting into the right positions now that we’ve got players who can hurt teams.”