Livingston manager Gary Holt expected the first month of the season to be a “war of attrition” after the long break and reduced build-up.
But he has reminded his players to deliver 90 minutes of the desire and endeavour they are renowned for when they host Hibernian on Saturday.
Holt felt his players started slowly in their opening Scottish Premiership encounter at St Mirren, which they lost 1-0.
Holt said: “We can’t get over-critical because – we won’t use it as an excuse – but it’s only the fourth game after five months off.
“It will take a wee bit of time, we knew that, we knew there would be some bumps in the road this first month. But if we play as well as we did second half then we won’t be too far away.
“We have pushed them as hard as we can to get them up to speed but normally you have played eight games before you get a league game in with pre-season friendlies and the League Cup.
“We knew this first month was going to be a war of attrition. I have looked at all the games at the weekend and I don’t see too many that were 100 miles an hour, hustle and bustle. And the atmosphere changes, there’s no-one here and that will affect the players.
“I think it’s going to take a few games. When this first month is out and we have played six games and everybody is right up to match tempo, it will be a better indication. You just hope you are not too far away.”
However, Holt expects improvement against a Hibs side who started their season with victory over Kilmarnock.
“They will come here full of confidence and it’s a kind of derby game for us, so we need to be at it, we can’t wait 45 minutes on Saturday and then turn up,” Holt said. “We have to be at it from minute one.
“I said to the boys on Monday, if you ask any Scottish football fan what is Livingston Football Club built on, it’s your hard work and endeavour first and foremost.
“You can hang your hat on that and I don’t think we had that on Saturday from the start. That was the thing that grates on us as staff. Second half I thought we had it but we need it from the start.”