Hearts interim manager Steven Naismith hailed his side for their attacking bravery as they hammered Ross County 6-1 to end a six-game losing streak.
The Tynecastle side have seen Aberdeen overtake them in third place in the Premiership during a worrying slump that included an Edinburgh derby loss to rivals Hibernian last weekend.
But a Lawrence Shankland hat-trick, a double from Josh Ginnelly and Alex Cochrane’s crucial opener hauled them back to within two points of the Dons and boosted confidence ahead of the post-split fixtures.
Naismith said: “It gets that first win out of the way but, more importantly, the performance was really good.
“Last weekend, I said we didn’t carry as much of an attacking threat against Hibs as we should have, and we were maybe one pass away from creating opportunities. Today, we did that much better.
“We were brave, especially in our own half on the ball and made the right choices with our passing.
“We played forward at the right times, which creates opportunities. We have really good players here so I knew if we created opportunities then we would take them.
“It was a good day’s work and it will give them loads of confidence as it breaks that rut of not winning.
“I’ve said before, and I think people were second guessing the comments I was making, but there are a good group of players here, they want to do well and be successful.
“This has probably been the most challenging time since most of them have been at the club but they showed today that they were brave.
“It gets a win. I say it all along, if we win games we will be successful, it’s as simple as that.
“I am not going to sit here and say everything changes from last week because it doesn’t. We are going into a run of fixtures when you are playing against the best five teams in the league and all the games will bring their own threats and challenges for us – but they also bring opportunities, which is the main thing for us.”
Ross County remain rooted to the bottom of the Premiership following manager Malky Mackay’s heaviest defeat in charge of the Staggies.
He is determined to ensure his side quickly recover from what he branded as an uncharacteristic display.
With a late Owura Edwards penalty scant consolation, he said: “We were way off it and Hearts were excellent. Give them credit where it’s due.
“It’s happened twice this season. Earlier in the season against Motherwell at home where we were really off it, and that’s the second one.
“We’ve just got to get back on track again. We’ve come off the back of three good performances but everyone, to a man, was under par.
“That’s what happens when you are [off it] and the opposition are doing well.
“We’ve got to make sure, going into these last five games, that we get back on the way we’ve been playing over the last few weeks.”