Mixu Paatelainen has told his Dundee United team to forget about their William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final and focus fully on this season’s main prize – top-flight survival.
The Tannadice outfit produced a brave fightback with 10-men to edge past Ross County 3-2 on Saturday and seal a place in the last four.
They now face a Hampden clash with either Hibernian or Inverness next month.
But boss Paatelainen does not want his players dreaming about the National Stadium when they should be worrying about their Ladbrokes Premiership plight.
United remain bottom of the table, but can cut the gap on nearest rivals Kilmarnock to five points if they overcome Motherwell at Fir Park on Friday night.
The Finn said: “It’s very important to win and Saturday’s result brings back the feel-good factor.
“But that can also be dangerous. We can’t relax. We want to ensure that we perform, that we are in the right frame of mind before every game.
“I don’t think just by getting into the semi-final it will help us in the league, though. It does give us confidence and the knowledge that we are doing the right things, but other than that, no it doesn’t.
“Now we need to put the Scottish Cup in the background and concentrate solely on our league matches. Those matches are cup finals themselves.
“You could say we are involved in two cup competitions right now. Every match is huge for us. The Scottish Cup is some way in the future and right now we must focus on the league.”
United last faced Well just three weeks ago when they capitulated in a 3-0 defeat to Mark McGhee’s team.
That painful loss sparked a furious response from Tangerines chairman Stephen Thompson.
In a stinging statement, he branded the player’s performance “abysmal” and warned they had just 13 games to preserve the club’s Premiership status and redeem their own professional reputations.
But his outburst seems to have produced the desired effect, with United victorious all but one of the four games that have followed.
Paatelainen, though, is anxious his men do not slip back into their old bad habits.
“I don’t think that Motherwell defeat was the lowest point of our season, but it was certainly a night that we must learn from,” he said. “We don’t want to forget it because we want to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“Quality teams punish you if you’re not up to the required standard and that night we weren’t.
“But performances and result had improved before that match. It was a hiccup. We must make sure we do not repeat that again. We’ll need fire in the belly when we go again because Motherwell have shown they can turn us like they did at Tannadice.”
Asked if Thompson had been back in touch with his team to commend their response to that Motherwell loss, the manager said: “The chairman is in touch with the players all the time, after every match, so nothing changes.”