Dundee boss James McPake insists his new-look team are now full of self-belief after posting a performance to savour.
The Dark Blues ultimately lost Sunday’s Betfred Cup tie with Premiership Aberdeen in extra time.
However, after a well-earned day off at the start of this week, the players returned to training on Tuesday.
And despite the hammer-blow defeat to the Dons, McPake sensed they were still upbeat after going toe to toe with Derek McInnes’s side for the duration of the game.
The manager, who welcomed back Kane Hemmings to training after the striker missed the Aberdeen tie with a knock, said: “I was a bit concerned before not knowing what was going to come.
“Some of them played 120 minutes. The stats were incredible and showed their workrate.
“They got the Monday off and deservedly so because they needed it.
“We picked it up a little bit on Tuesday and they were all great.
“My concern was would there be a headache from Sunday but it looked the opposite.
“There were going to be extra bits to the training but we just called a halt and said, ‘Well done’, because they were really at it.
“There is a decent buzz about the place and long may that continue.”
McPake added: “To me they now do believe fully in what we have been doing.
“We have seen it in different stages, in the second half against Dunfermline in parts against Ayr and then for 90 minutes against Aberdeen it was the performance we had been asking for.
“That’s down to them – it has nothing to do with what we are doing.
“It is completely down to the work they have done through pre-season.”
Danny Johnson scored the penalty against Aberdeen that looked like it would be enough to take Dundee through to the quarter-finals.
The former Motherwell striker was also an absolute handful for the Aberdeen defence throughout and helped set the tone for the rest of the team.
However, McPake insists Johnson is not alone in doing that.
He said: “Yes, Danny did it and Shaun Byrne did it as well.
“I thought he was outstanding on Sunday. That’s the best I have seen him at our club. I have seen loads of that at Livingston and throughout his career but that was the first time I saw the real Shaun Byrne here.
“The ground he covered was great but it is the way we want to play – we want to press teams and get after them.
“You want players who can do that and Danny certainly can. Neller (Andrew Nelson) can as well.
“When he goes, he goes with a real intensity. Josh (McPake) will add to that as well.
“That’s what we are trying to do, to bring an intensity to the club and we are getting there.”