Ross County: Jim McIntyre aims high by targeting another top-six finish
Ross County manager Jim McIntyre is targeting another Premiership top-six finish despite conceding it will be harder to achieve this season.
County, whose defence of the League Cup ended in the first round, finished sixth in last season's top flight.
"It's going to be harder," said McIntyre. "Rangers are in the league this year and other teams have recruited well.
"It's up to us to take on that mantle and try and make sure we make it."
The Dingwall side failed to progress from their group in the Scottish League Cup's newly-formatted first round, finishing behind Alloa Athletic, who reached the last 16, and Raith Rovers.
"Going out of the cup was the worst possible thing that could have happened in terms of our defence of the trophy but it's gone," McIntyre told BBC Scotland.
"It's about what we do now. I've got a group of players there that I'm confident will respond in the right way.
"We've had one really good season and what we've got to do is go and back that up by being in consecutive top-six finishes."
McIntyre has lost the influential Jackson Irvine to Burton Albion but has recruited a number of players, particularly in defensive areas, to allow more flexibility with formation.
Long-serving midfielder Michael Gardyne believes County should now see themselves as one of the bigger teams in Scottish football after their development over recent years.
"The way the club progressed and kicked on year on year, it's been massive," he explained.
"We need to try and better that now, you want to be top six again, even fifth place. That's always the pressure you put on yourself to finish higher than you did last season.
"We were disappointed, a wee bit embarrassed that we got knocked out the cup that we're holders of.
"We've got to prove to ourselves that we do want it."