St Johnstone midfielder Craig Bryson insists Saturday’s trip to Livingston isn’t a dress rehearsal for the upcoming League Cup Final between the sides.
Saints are much more interested in moving up the Premiership table after going down fighting at Rangers on Wednesday.
Livingston themselves are flying and go into the contest at the Tony Macaroni on the back of 14 matches without defeat – 11 of them victories.
That’s seen David Martindale’s side shoot up the table into fifth place.
It’s league action this week but the two sides will walk out at Hampden on February 28 for the Betfred Cup trophy.
However, Bryson says what happens on Saturday won’t have too much bearing on the big one at the end of the month.
“It’s a different game, obviously we’re going to Livingston and it’s astrograss, the pitch is a bit smaller than Hampden as well,” he said.
“We’ll see how it goes, we never put in a good performance there the last time so we want to put that right.
“We need to keep on picking up results against teams around about us but we feel the performances we’ve put in this season we probably deserve to be higher up the table.
“But in games we’ve had chances and not taken them and maybe been punished – it’s up to us to turn draws into wins.”
Halt Livi momentum
Asked whether they’d like to halt Livi’s momentum before the cup final, Bryson replied: “Of course but we don’t really look at Livingston’s form – we just concentrate on our own.
“Ever since they’ve appointed their manager, they’ve been on a good run.
“We know it’ll be tough like it always is at Livingston but we can hopefully come away with three points.
“They’ll be confident and really up for it. They are tough to play at home. Saturday will be no different.
“Conditions probably won’t be great either so it’ll be an interesting game. We are going with confidence though.”
Positives despite defeat at Rangers
That confidence is undimmed by the performance at Ibrox in midweek, even though they came out on the wrong side of the scoreline.
Rangers have won every single home league game this term, 13 in total, scoring 39 goals and conceding just once.
St Johnstone, though, came off the pitch disappointed they weren’t able to get anything out of a match they more than played their part in.
The home side created a number of chances but didn’t really test goalkeeper Zander Clark while Bryson himself brought two good saves out of Gers keeper Allan McGregor.
“I got a noseblood a few times!” Bryson joked.
“I think maybe the first one I should do a wee bit better, the goalkeeper made a good save.
“The one with my left foot in the second half was an excellent save. Allan McGregor has done that his whole career.
“We were disappointed not to take anything from the game. It’s tough to go to Ibrox, Rangers are flying this season and they make it difficult.
“We gave away a sloppy goal but apart from that McGregor had a good few saves.
“Unfortunately we didn’t manage to take anything from it.”
As the second half wore on, Saints grew in stature after a surge from the home side early in the period.
So much so that Rangers boss Steven Gerrard shored up his midfield with Glen Kamara coming on for goalscorer Ianis Hagi.
In the end, the Light Blues looked happy to see out time.
Bryson added: “We didn’t start the second half well but our reaction from there was good.
“We started pressing them higher up the pitch and took more care of the ball, started to hurt them a bit more but Rangers are a good team.
“So to be disappointed not to take anything from Ibrox shows we put up a good fight.
“We have to take confidence from the last half-hour of the game and the chances we created.”
And Bryson hopes his performance in the middle of the park will have put him in good stead for the upcoming Hampden date.
“I hope I can play the final,” he said.
“The lads did unbelievably the last time at Hampden to beat Hibs 3-0 so it’ll be tough to force my way into the team that played that day.
“But when you get the opportunity to play, it’s up to yourself to put in a good performance and I think I did that on Wednesday.
“The gaffer is fond of making changes every week! I’m not sure Saturday will be any different, Wednesday was quite energy-sapping but we’ll see how it goes Saturday.”