James McPake has urged his Dundee side to put their “stamp” on Friday night’s derby crunch at Dens Park from the first whistle.
The Dark Blues host their city neighbours Dundee United aiming to cut their rivals’ six-point lead over them at the top of the Championship table.
In the stands there will no doubt be a feeling of putting things right going into the second derby of the season after the first ended with a humiliating 6-2 thumping at Tannadice (see video below).
James, however, insists that defeat will have no bearing on Friday’s contest for his team.
He said: “We will look back on that game just as we would if we were playing Alloa or Morton.
“We look back on the matches we have played against our opponents and analyse them – looking at strengths and weaknesses.
“We can’t say that we should have had the goal that was chalked off because that’s irrelevant now. You can’t say: ‘Don’t worry about it boys, we can just turn up and we’ll get the right calls this time’.
“You need to put your stamp on the match and hurt whoever you are playing. They will be thinking the same. The talk will not be about that game. It will be about this match and what it means to us as a club.”
The Dens gaffer is in no doubt his side are a “stronger group” this time around.
And he points to the quality that’s been added since in the shape of former West Brom, Norwich and Rangers midfielder Graham Dorrans.
“I would say we are a stronger group,” James said.
“We have added quality to the group. However, United will be stronger, too, because, although they didn’t make wholesale changes, they have been able to work with their players and they have been on a good run.
“I think the benefits we have had on the training ground they will have had as well.
“They may not have needed as much work but we felt we did need to put in the work on the training field in terms of how we go about things.
“I think you can see that and, hopefully, you will see it on Friday night again.”
He added: “I still don’t think we are completely there.
“I don’t know if I will ever think that. In terms of training and that, then yes.
“The international break came at a good time for us because we hadn’t yet had the chance to integrate Graham Dorrans into the squad.
“We also had Jamie Ness coming back so it was a really good time to get a week’s training done.
“Then we have had the games coming in thick and fast and you can see the benefit of that week.
“The boys have been getting to know each other and what’s good and their strengths.
“It is tough to just tell them that, you need to work on it day in, day out on the training field. I think even the top teams will tell you that.
“Getting a settled squad after the window shut and being able to work with the boys – that has certainly helped us.”
Meanwhile, the Dens boss is hopeful left-back Jordan Marshall will be fit to start on Friday after he limped off early in the 2-1 win over Morton last week.
James said: “He is OK, I think. We left him out of training yesterday but he is gradually getting better. Hopefully, we caught it at the right time.
“He did look a bit tired the other night, as did some others. We are asking Jordan and the others to press hard in the game but, hopefully, he will be all right.
“The fans have taken to him and I can see why. He is very consistent and has a good end product as well which goes under-rated at times.
“We will get him through this week and he will be fine.”