Stewart Murdoch believes Dundee United have been written off as title contenders but vowed that they haven’t thrown in the towel.
The Tangerines midfielder was part of the side that was pinned to the ropes by Championship leaders Hibs eight days ago at Easter Road.
Murdoch admitted that the ferocity of the Edinburgh side’s attacking play as they went on the front-foot and raced into a 2-0 lead – which eventually became a 3-0 victory – left the United players “almost shocked.”
However, as they attempt to bounce back when they face Queen of the South at Tannadice today, Murdoch stressed that the self-belief remains strong among Ray McKinnon’s squad.
They are four points behind the Hibees and have a significantly inferior goal difference so they can’t afford the luxury of feeling sorry for themselves.
Instead, Murdoch promised that they will banish Easter Road from their minds and return to the form that saw them go 14 matches unbeaten right up to Hogmanay.
The former Ross County player man: “Everybody has written us off this season.
“It is as if it is Hibs’ league to just go and win.
“We don’t see it that way because there are a lot of games still to be played.
“We have seen ourselves drop points at Dumbarton, for example, but Hibs have dropped points too.
“It is not a league that is going to be won on matches between ourselves and Hibs. Other results will matter a lot.
“So we need to go about our business properly in every game.
“If we can stay under the radar for as long as possible then we will happily do that.
“We believe in ourselves.
“We had a great run before the two defeats against Dumbarton and Hibs so we know we can win games.
“We just need to put the last two behind us as quickly as possible.”
So painful were the result and performance at Easter Road, though, that you worry about it seriously denting United’s confidence going forward.
Murdoch freely admitted it was a terrible night for the Tangerines and their 2,300 travelling fans.
He conceded: “Friday was a really disappointing result for us.
“Hibs came at us quickly and before we really knew it we were 2-0 down.
“Then we really had a mountain to climb.
“It was a disappointing performance all round but especially the way we lost the goals.
“We also weren’t in their faces.
“They almost shocked us in the first half-hour.
“We saw they have a lot of quality throughout their team and it was a bit of an eye-opener for us to see what we need to play against them.
“But we know we have quality throughout our team, too.
“There were just too many players who were off their game.
“We had more than half the team who weren’t at it and that’s the disappointing thing.
“When you go to Easter Road it is the biggest game you’ll play in this division and you need everybody at it.
“It was disappointing to lose in the manner we did but we will lift ourselves for Queen of the South.”
Murdoch has been fighting his own personal battle against injury, having just returned to the side for the defeat at Dumbarton after three-month absence.
He said: “Having been out for about 14 weeks it takes a while to find your feet.
“I damaged my posterior cruciate and while it was quite minor it took a lot longer than I expected to get back.
“However, my fitness is there and I just feel as though I need as many 90 minutes under my belt as I can get.
“I feel in a good place physically now.
“It was a frustrating spell but I feel ready to go again.
“That was the longest period I had been out injured.
“I broke my foot once but it was at the end of a season and I only missed four games.
“I hold my fitness quite well so hopefully I can continue from where I am.”
The Tangerines are expected to hand a first start to new Danish striker Thomas Mikkelsen this afternoon.
The on-loan signing from Odense made a 15-minute appearance as a substitute against Hibs and has declared himself ready to face the Doonhamers.
United are actually injury-free but right-back Frank van der Struijk, who has been training, will still miss out as he finalises his recovery.