This season is set to be St Johnstone’s toughest top six examination yet.
But Perth boss Tommy Wright is confident it is a challenge his team can step up to.
Saints haven’t scored in their last four games and their only point in that time has come in the midweek draw with Ross County.
But such a run of form is nothing out of the ordinary for Wright and turning it round certainly doesn’t faze him – even if the Premiership is the strongest he has known.
“We are in a reasonably strong position and people need to remember the league is tougher this year,” he said.
“Take Celtic out of it and everyone is capable of beating everyone else.
“There is always an improver from the bottom six (Motherwell), Hibs are back and Aberdeen have strengthened again.
“I can understand people pointing at our recent results but the negativity frustrates me.
“You get runs like the one we have been on, it happens every season and has happened every year since I’ve been here.
“You get a run of games where it doesn’t happen for you because the margins are so tight.
“But within the club we’re positive, we are closer to a European place than the bottom and we’re in the top six.”
Wright added: “Of course we have to improve, everyone knows that, but we have had a decent start to the season.
“Maybe we are victims of our own success and people automatically expect us to be in the top six.
“We have never thought like that because we know how tough it is. The teams around us are all spending and our squad is in transition at the moment.
“We are in a good position, I believe we are capable of getting top six – but we know we have to improve in certain areas for that to happen.”
With Aaron Comrie bedding in well at right-back and Liam Gordon only kept out of the team on Tuesday night because of injury, there is a bit of a transition going on at McDiarmid Park.
“We are introducing young players to the team and that will continue as the season goes on,” Wright said.
“This club can never relax, we need to keep trying to move forward and that’s what we’re trying to do.
“If Liam had been fit the other night he would have played but Steven Anderson came back in and played brilliantly, so he’s earned the right to stay in now.
“It’s the same for Richard Foster and Aaron Comrie.
“Aaron has come in and done really well so he’s got the jersey at the moment. When you are out of the team you have to be patient.
“The young lads we have been introducing at the back have all done well, our squad is changing slowly and they have been asked to step up to the mark.
“Aaron has done really well, it has been a tough start against Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Hearts away.
“His training has been great and he did well in pre-season games. He had to wait for his chance then try to grasp it and I think he’s done that.”
Gordon and Foster are both available for the trip to face Partick Thistle tomorrow, while Michael O’Halloran could also be in the squad.
“Michael took a bit of a knock so that’s why he came off (on Tuesday),” said Wright.
“It wasn’t the injury from before, it was the same ankle but it was different.
“He thinks he might be OK for the weekend so the physio is assessing him and we’ll see where we are.”
Partick’s form has picked up, with a win against Dundee followed by a draw with Hamilton.
Wright said: “Alan (Archibald) has had injuries but they will take a lot of confidence from the last two results.
“Firhill has been decent for us over the last few years so we’re looking forward to it.
“I believe we can go there and win, we have played Partick twice this season and they were two completely different matches.
“We need to impose ourselves on them and try to be better in the final third of the pitch.”