Craig Levein has hammered home the importance of getting off to a good start when Hearts begin competitive action at Cove Rangers on Wednesday.
The Jambos kick-off their Betfred Cup campaign at the home of the Highland League champions, and the manager has revealed that his side will be going all out to make headway in the competition and build up some winning momentum.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference this morning, Craig said: “Once the real football starts then the pressure comes on and that’s the same for everybody.
“There are three main competitions in Scotland and this is one of them.
“We can’t afford to take this lightly…it’s a long time since we won this competition.
“There aren’t enough competitions so that you can discard any of them as not important. It’s really important that we get off to a good start.
“This competition is a real banana skin as you can see by some of the results at the weekend. We have to be focused and do our best.”
Cove fell to a 2-0 defeat at Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday, a match watched by Craig.
He believes the Cove Bay side will prove a tough test for the Jambos and intends to play his strongest available starting XI.
“They’re a good team,” he said. “I’ve watched them twice, once up at Montrose last Monday and I was up at Inverness on Saturday.
“I can see why they’ve won the Highland League twice in the last three years.
“They will cause us problems, I’m sure of it. They caused Inverness problems on Saturday and I think it’s a challenge for us, particularly away from home.
“I think - barring injuries, of course - we will be as strong as we can possibly be.”
Craig's press conference is available to watch in full on HeartsTV