Ross Callachan believes Ross County must make their intentions clear from the start when they host Rangers today.
County are firm underdogs when they take on a Gers side which has won 10 of its last 11 matches in the Premiership in today’s lunchtime kick-off.
It presents a difficult challenge for the Staggies, who are eager to bounce back following their late 2-1 loss to Dundee United in midweek.
Midfielder Callachan feels County have been slow off the mark in recent matches, but has warned they will quickly be punished unless they can reverse that trend against the champions.
Callachan said: “They will respect us. But we need to be on it from the start.
“We need to start games better, I feel. The last couple we have not started as well as we can but we need to do that this weekend.
“We’ve scored four goals against Rangers and they haven’t conceded many. We know we can do it.
“But we need to be on it defensively as well because they are such a threat going forward and they can hurt you with the quality they’ve got.
“Switch off for one minute and the ball is in the back of the net so we have to be solid.
“There will be a good atmosphere. I am not surprised it’s a sell out and the place will be bouncing.
“Teams are capable of causing an upset against the Old Firm and I don’t see that we are any different.”
Callachan is confident the Staggies’ confidence will not be dented by the loss at Tannadice, given the attacking threat Malky Mackay’s side have continued to pose throughout the season.
The former Hearts and St Johnstone midfielder added: “We had a lot of chances against Dundee United to be two or three up and didn’t take them and got punished in the last minute.
“A few games this season have been like that when they could have gone either way, but we have been on a run recently.
“Sometimes when a team concedes a goal they might concede one or two more quite quickly.
“When we’ve conceded one we’ve tended to keep the door shut for the next 10 or 15 minutes and then attacked the opposition and scored. It did not affect us or make us lose our confidence.”
County are four points clear of the relegation zone, with 16 games remaining.
Callachan, who has netted three goals since joining from Hamilton Accies last summer, is keen to start looking up the table.
The 28-year-old said: “Hopefully it doesn’t come down to a relegation scrap. We want to kick on and push further up the league.
“We want to pick up as many points as we can. But we need to keep taking it each game at a time and work on our gameplan.
“We look at how we are going to hurt teams and how they can hurt us. We all know what each other are doing.
“It took a month or two for us to really gel and apart from Wednesday’s result we’ve been on a good run in the league.”