Malky Mackay has urged Ross County to thrive on being tipped to face the drop from the Premiership this season.
The Staggies prop up the table after 13 matches, albeit they are only behind Dundee United on goals scored.
They have lost ground on a number of other sides in the bottom half who have recorded wins in recent weeks, however.
Last season, Mackay oversaw an excellent turnaround which saw the Staggies recover from a slow start to finish in the top six.
County’s visit to St Mirren on Saturday is the first of three games before the winter break, with a further 22 matches to play following the restart in December.
Malky Mackay ‘loves a challenge’
Mackay wants his players to revel in being written off as strugglers in this season’s top flight.
He said: “When I came in at first, we were seen as favourites to go down last year.
“We wouldn’t have been at the start of this season, purely because of where we finished.
“When people then look in the cold light of day at what budgets are, and what spending powers are, of course we would be one of the teams they would look at and think ‘there’s a chance again’.
“There’s always going to be that which hangs over us, because of the size of the club.
“We are seen to be punching above our weight in Scottish football, and in the Premiership.
“You add the fact Kilmarnock came up, and they have good resources as well.
“But I love a challenge.”
Last two matches have provided ‘evidence’ of County’s threats
Despite the fact results have not come in the last two matches, Mackay believes the Staggies’ performances have gone a long way towards reassuring his players of the threats they are capable of posing.
He added: “I talked last year about showing the players evidence.
“On Sunday, there was evidence of playing against a terrific team. There was evidence at Kilmarnock.
“If I go back through parts of the season so far, the evidence, based on when we did well in games, was when we had a bit of confidence and flair. It was when we were actually calm enough to get it down and play.
“I go right back to the first game of the season against Hearts at Tynecastle, where there were 18,000 in the stadium and we came out of the traps flying.
“We need to keep that little bit of belief, embrace it and grab it.”
‘Trust the process’ message from Staggies boss
Mackay is reluctant to go back to the drawing board in his approach, with the Staggies boss retaining faith in the way his side has developed in recent weeks.
He added: “We are there at the moment – but stay calm. Because in the games we are playing in, we are certainly in and among everything.
“We’ve got to score those chances, but if we keep producing balls into boxes, and playing the way we did, goals will come.
“It’s a boring line, but we trust the process. We’ve got to keep looking at the process to see if it’s broken.
“If we are not playing well, and not winning, clearly we’ve got to change the process.
“Especially over the last few weeks, I’m starting to see people understand their role.”