Tony Docherty says Dundee’s two matches with Hibs this season proved they “belong” at the top table of Scottish football.
The Dark Blues are enjoying their return to the Premiership after promotion from the second tier last term.
However, Nick Montgomery’s Hibs put a dampener on things at Dens Park on Saturday.
Their 2-1 victory brought an end to a good run of form that had seen just one defeat in six and five clean sheets registered.
That run had started with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Easter Road.
“There’s a real frustration from the players because the performance level against Hibs merited more,” Docherty said.
“In terms of the amount our goalie had to work and the amount their goalie had to work.
“We did a lot things right and got punished for a couple of little mistakes.
“Hibs only had three shots on target and scored two goals so there is a feeling of frustration.
“But there is also the feeling that we definitely belong here.
“Hibs are an established top-six team and over the two games we were more than a match for them.
“There’s a realisation that we are a good side.”
Meanwhile, on Sunday Dundee entered the Scottish Cup draw for the first time this season.
The fourth-round saw the Dark Blues paired with fellow-Premiership side Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
It will be another reunion between Docherty and his long-time boss Derek McInnes.
And a return to the ground where he was assistant manager last term.
Docherty plans to meet the challenge “head on” but admits the draw could have been kinder.
“We’re the only two Premiership teams playing each other and it’s away from home so it’s not the ideal draw but we’ll take it,” he said.
“If you want a successful cup run, it doesn’t matter how you do it.
“You might have liked a home tie or against a lower-league club but you have to meet the game head on.
“Right now, though, we have seven league games to concentrate on first.”