Alan Stubbs has challenged his Hibernian players to respond to recent setbacks by reaching the Scottish Cup final and securing promotion.
Sunday’s League Cup final loss to Ross County was Hibs’ fourth in five games.
They are 17 points behind Championship leaders Rangers and face Inverness Caledonian Thistle in Wednesday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final replay.
“We’ve had a chat about what we’ve still got to achieve this season,” head coach Stubbs told BBC Scotland.
“Whenever you’ve had a disappointment, like we’ve had on Sunday, all it should do is make you even more determined to achieve your main priority or get back there [to Hampden] as soon as possible.
“What they have to do is prove to themselves. When you’re hurt and down, there’s no point in looking for a bit of sand to bury your head in. It’s about getting up and doing something about it and that’s what we’ve spoken about.
“I’ll be looking for a response from my players and I’m sure they’ll be looking for a response.
“I think [perspective] has been lost in a lot of the publicity around the team. We are the only team that had the possibility of doing a treble.
“We’ve got to a major final, we’re in the quarter-final of a cup and we’ve still got a chance of promotion, so when you’ve still got that to fight for, it’s maybe not as bad as one or two people perceive.
“Our performances against Premiership teams – not just over one game, but over five games – have been very good. That gives us confidence that if we are to achieve our main priority, it bodes well for next season.”
‘Team not about one player’
Stubbs also responded to criticism of the team’s run since the loan signing of Anthony Stokes.
The striker has scored just twice in nine games since his move from Celtic to Easter Road, with the team winning just three of those matches.
But Stubbs stressed: “The team is not about one player.
“Anthony’s come into the team and it was always going to take a bit of time to get him up to match sharpness, but his performance on Sunday was better than he’s performed up to now.
“He was unlucky with a few chances, but the reason we haven’t won games is not because of Anthony Stokes and I won’t look to pin the blame on any individual.
“We win as a team, we lose as a team.”