Dundee’s Paul McGowan knows only too well just how difficult it is as a player to go from the incredible high of winning the League Cup back to the bread-and-butter games in the Premiership.
The 28-year-old won the trophy when he was at St Mirren in 2013 with the Buddies beating Hearts 3-2 in the final.
McGowan admits that after picking up the silverware, it was all too easy to take the foot off the gas in the subsequent league games.
The Staggies, of course, lifted the League Cup last month by beating Hibs at Hampden and since then, they have drawn with St Johnstone and been thumped 3-0 by Highland rivals Inverness in the Premiership.
McGowan is now hoping that the Dark Blues can also rain on their parade and get their own top six ambitions back on track after drawing with United last time out two weeks ago.
The midfielder said: “This weekend is massive for us because the result in the derby, where we dominated until we got a man sent off, was a turning point.
“If we’d won that we would have been in a much better position but we didn’t.
“So this game is massive and we need to win it.
“If we don’t win, then our top six hopes could be over.
“We don’t have the best of records against County and they have scored a lot of goals against us this season.
“They are a tough, physical side who work hard so it will be a difficult game.
“But if we play like we did for most of the derby, then I’m confident we can win.
He added: “It is difficult to get focused again after winning the League Cup.
“At St Mirren we struggled a bit because it’s tough and although you don’t mean it, it’s easy to take your foot off the gas.
“It’s hard because after all the emotions of winning it, you’re drained.
“Even after the celebrations it’s hard because there has been such a build-up and you just sit back feeling a relief that you won it.
“It’s one of the days you always remember and all credit to County, they have done brilliantly.
“Jim McIntyre and Billy Dodds have built a great squad, they are a tight unit who all work for each other.
“So they are tough to play against.
“Hopefully they will still be feeling it after the final, but it won’t be easy.
“They are going for the top six as well, it’s down to the nitty gritty now and both teams will be battling.”
Last week, McGowan put pen to paper on a two-year contract extension with the player admitting the decision was an easy one to make, especially after the club stood by him throughout his well-documented off-field problems.
He added: “The club have been brilliant and I think we’re going places.
“We have had a lot of injuries so the season has been a bit stop-start but we’re pushing on.
“If we can stay injury-free next season, then we can have a right go at it.
“The club has been brilliant with me, from the manager, the chief executive, the other players and the fans.
“I put them in a position where they could have wiped their hands of me but they didn’t.
“I’m now just focused on the football, I’m not going out and I’m living quietly.
“It was time to grow up, I’m 28 and not a daft wee boy any more.
“This was my last chance and I have to take it.
“It was an easy decision to stay.”