Derek McInnes has challenged his Kilmarnock players to secure a swift return to Hampden and give themselves a chance to banish their Viaplay Cup semi-final disappointment.
Killie lost 2-0 to Celtic at the national stadium in January but have an opportunity to get back there if they can win away to Inverness in Friday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final.
“We spoke to the players after the semi-final defeat to Celtic in the League Cup and said the belief must be to come back to Hampden, go one step further and at least get to a final with the objective to try and win a cup,” McInnes said at his pre-match media briefing on Wednesday.
“To do that, we knew we’d have to win some tough games and Friday will be no different. We’ve got to try and be good enough to navigate this tie and beat Inverness on their own patch, which will be a challenge for us.
“I don’t think the club has ever been to two semi-finals in any season in its history, so that’s the first objective, to win this game and get to another semi-final.
“We don’t just want to be happy to get to the semi-final though. We’re a Premiership club and we should be putting a demand on ourselves to go and win a cup. You can only really talk about that publicly when you deal with what’s in front of you.”
Inverness are currently fifth in the Championship after a mixed campaign, but Billy Dodds’ side beat Killie three times when they were both in the second tier last season.
McInnes is braced for a tough challenge against a team who defeated top-flight Livingston 3-0 in the last round.
“I’m sure, looking at the other teams in it, Inverness would have been quite happy with the draw, as were we,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity for both teams, but we’ve got to use our experience from the League Cup and from dealing with Premiership games to make sure we’re good enough to get the job done.
“Inverness are a more than capable side. They’re sitting mid-table at the minute, but, with the players they’ve got and if they get a bit of luck with injuries, they can certainly mount a challenge to get into the play-offs. We’ll give them every respect.
“They had an eye-catching result against Livingston who don’t usually lose at home by that kind of score.
“I’ve seen bits and pieces of that game and Inverness were really clinical. They’ve got players that can hurt you, but we’ve got to back ourselves.”