Lee Ashcroft knows exactly what is going through the mind of every Kilmarnock player this week.
And he’s determined to pile on more of that “horrible feeling” by taking their Premiership place for Dundee over the next week.
The Ayrshire club’s 28-year stay in Scotland’s top-flight is under threat after finishing in 11th place.
Ashcroft and his Dark Blues team-mates are that threat as they prepare to unseat Tommy Wright’s side from their spot at the top table.
Five years ago, however, the big defender was on the other side of the Premiership play-off final – fighting to keep Killie up under Lee Clark.
Then 22-years-old, Ashcroft was coming to the end of his time at Rugby Park.
They struggled throughout the season, finishing seven points behind Hamilton in 10th, despite having players like Kris Boyd, Josh Magennis and Jamie MacDonald at their disposal.
‘Back then, I felt the pressure’
That quality told in the end as Kilmarnock stayed up with a rousing 4-0 home victory over Falkirk after losing the first leg 1-0.
And Ashcroft says the final result was very much a release after an immense build-up of pressure.
“I’ve been in a relegation play-off before and it’s horrible from the Premiership team’s point of view,” he said.
“It is a horrible feeling and it’s hard.
“Nobody wants to be involved in relegation. In one of those seasons you get used to not winning many games.
“Back then I felt the pressure on myself and I think the other boys did as well. We did see it through back then but it’s a tough job.”
On Dundee’s hopes of promotion, he added: “We’ve given ourselves a chance (to go up) but we need to keep at it. We have got to the final but there’s no job done yet.
“Anything can happen in a final.
“Kilmarnock are not in that league for no reason, they are a good team with a good manager.
“We know it will be tough but we also know if we turn up and play the way we can then we have a right chance.”
‘I’ve been in the Championship longer than I wanted to be’
That 4-0 win over the Bairns was Ashcroft’s final match for Kilmarnock as he dropped down to the Championship anyway, signing for Dunfermline.
There he spent four seasons before joining the Dark Blues last summer.
And he has enjoyed a stellar first season at Dens Park, scoring six times – some of his goals vital in the second half of the season.
Towering performances in both boxes were awarded with Player’s Player of the Year and Fan’s Player of the Year awards.
However, he’s not finished yet and sees these next two matches as his route back to the Premiership, even if it is at the expense of his old team.
“I have probably been in the Championship a bit longer than I wanted to be,” he added.
“That’s down to myself as well so I’m delighted to have a real chance now. Hopefully, we can do it.
“When I arrived at Dundee I looked at the squad of players this club is more than capable of being a Premiership team.
“It is a massive club and it would be good to do it for the fans.
“We have a lot of boys who have played in the Premiership before and that gives us confidence.
“A lot of us have played against these teams before so we know what to expect.
“We have played there before and know what to expect so, hopefully, that gives us a bit of advantage.”