Captain Darren O’Dea insists Dundee are a “different animal” to what they were last season despite their poor start to the Premiership season.
The Dark Blues are sitting bottom of the table after their opening-day defeat to Ross County at Dens was followed by a 3-0 loss to Hamilton Accies at the SuperSeal Stadium on Saturday.
With a daunting set of league fixtures against Aberdeen (a), Hibs (h), Rangers (a) and St Johnstone (h) to come before the Betfred Cup quarter-final against Celtic, there is a danger that the Dens men could find themselves in deep trouble very quickly.
However, O’Dea insists that Neil McCann’s side are better than the team that just avoided the play-off spot last May and that they are closer to getting it right than they were for long spells under previous boss Paul Hartley.
The Irishman, who hobbled off with a knee injury early in the second half on Saturday and will get a scan today, said: “We do need to pick up points now but I think are a different animal to last year – that’s for sure.
“The character in the team is different.
“The two matches we have lost have been on a knife-edge and we could have gotten something out of both games.
“It is strange to be saying this after this result but last year, for a lot of the season, I came off after games feeling that we went down with a whimper but we are not doing that now.
“It is fine margins but we need to start being more ruthless and coming out of matches on the right side.”
Dundee missed a barrowload of chances – including a penalty that was blasted over the bar by Scott Allan at 2-0 – but O’Dea conceded it was not just the strikers’ fault that they lost.
He added: “It was a really strange game.
“It is unusual and hard to digest just now because you kind of wonder how we managed that.
“One thing we spoke about before the match was how we got turned over by them (Hamilton) last season.
“When you come here it is about character, commitment and desire because this game is always a tough one.
“It is always physically demanding but I thought we stood up to that really, really well.
“We should have been in front – no doubt about it.
“We had chances and couldn’t finish them.
“We should not have been conceding like we did either and there are definitely things to work on.
“So it’s about both ends of the pitch. We have to score and we have to stop conceding goals.”
As well as O’Dea’s injury, winger Randy Wolters lasted only half-an-hour or so after hurting his hamstring, while Roarie Deacon didn’t make the squad because of a knock picked up in the derby cup win over Dundee United.