Hibernian boss Jack Ross hopes dangling a European carrot in front of his players will help them get back on track after their derby disappointment.
The Leith outfit slumped 3-1 to Hearts on Tuesday night but Ross does not want to let that result fester.
Paul Heckingbottom’s successor took over back in November with the Easter Road sitting eighth place – but victory over Aberdeen on Saturday would see them close to within two points of the Europa League slots.
And Ross, who will be without Marc McNulty for the Pittodrie trip after the striker accepted a two-game ban for stamping on Jambos midfielder Sean Clare, said: “We’ve used (the possibility of qualifying for Europe as motivation) post-break.
“We used the opportunity while we were away to speak collectively and look for goals and targets for the rest of the season.
“It was something I didn’t think was not achievable for the players but we still need to strive towards it. We also need other things to fall our way as we’re not in the box seat.
“We also first of all have to secure our top-six place.
“But those two probably go hand in hand right now. Securing the top six would allow us to look to challenge higher up such is the closeness of it at the moment.
“But the important thing is that drive is there right now and we still have a chance of achieving that.
“It’s important we don’t forget the progress we’ve made.
“I stand by what I said after the game on Tuesday, there was very little in it until the penalty and even after it we had a good spell where we created a couple of chances.
“We didn’t react to the second goal but it’s not comparable to say the Rangers game before Christmas where we were really poor for 90 minutes and were comprehensively beaten.
“We’ll accept our medicine from the derby but it doesn’t deflect away from a lot of the good things the players have done over the last few months.”
Meanwhile, Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano does not want to see an empty Hampden when he makes the trip to Glasgow later this month with Israel for the Euro 2020 play-offs.
Israeli boss Andreas Herzog has been warned he could be forced into isolation for two weeks if he returns to the country from his native Austria because of coronavirus fears.
Six cases of the disease have so far been reported in Scotland but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that figure could rise “rapidly” in the days to come – sparking fears Scotland’s crucial semi-final showdown with Israel could be played behind closed doors.
But Marciano said: “Football firstly is for the fans. Even though it’s against us, I think for the sake of the game it would be good to play it in front of a crowd.
“That’s why we play football at the highest level, for these moments.
“The situation in Israel is the same in Scotland. I think there has been an increase in the number of cases in the last few days.
“They have tried to minimise the risk, so they have cancelled a few big events and a few games in the last few days.
“Obviously it’s not ideal but we should deal with it and I hope it will settle down.
“All I’ve read about the coach is from the local media back home. But it looks like he will be going back to Israel and it will not affect our preparations for the game.”