Dave Mackay insists there is no gaping chasm between the Championship and the top six in the Premiership, as Dundee prepare to face St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup.
Top-tier Saints are favourites to progress through to the next round at Dens on Saturday.
However, Dark Blues assistant boss Mackay is certain league positions will count for little in the Tayside derby cup tie.
He believes Dundee can bridge the small gap between the sides, with players from the Championship – such as former Inverness defender Shaun Rooney – showing they can quickly adapt to performing at a higher level.
The 39-year-old said: “I don’t think there is a huge step up. Look at Rooney for example.
“We were in for him but he went to St Johnstone instead and has been a stand-out pretty much every week for them.
“So that shows the gap isn’t that big between the Championship and the Premiership.
“I think we can step up to that level but the difference is in the consistency – can you step up and do it on a weekly basis?
“That’s where it comes in because you can’t play well one week and then slip off it the next week.
“But from working with our team every day, I don’t think there is a huge difference.”
Mackay, who lifted the cup as Saints skipper in 2014, also believes St Johnstone should suit Dundee and their style of play.
He added: “I have said to people in the past, and it might sound stupid, but I think we are better suited to playing teams in the Premiership at times.
“In the Championship, balls are being launched over your head and it’s often not a football game.
“So I think we are better suited to playing better quality sides.
“We will see on Saturday and hopefully we’ll show we’re able to more than hold our own against a top six side.”
St Johnstone are enjoying a campaign to remember under boss Callum Davidson in what is his first season in charge of the club.
Saints have won the League Cup and secured another top six finish but Mackay admits he fully expected his former team-mate to be a success in the role.
He said: “It is no surprise if I am being honest. All he thinks about is football.
“Bringing Steven MacLean in as well is a great decision, while Alec Cleland is there too so Cal has built a good team.
“He has carried on the good work that Tommy Wright has done.
“I am not surprised at the job he has done and winning a cup is massive for them.
“In terms of league positions, I fancied them to be up challenging for the top six.”
Saints first-team coach MacLean, of course, is another former team-mate of Mackay’s and the ex-striker is never slow to voice an opinion or two.
However, Mackay insists they will both be on their best behaviour in the dug-out at Dens on Saturday.
Mackay said: “He tells me he is not allowed to shout and Cal has told him he has to remain calm. It will be interesting to see that.
“I am not sure he will remain calm, while I’ve had a couple of bookings myself so I have been on my best behaviour recently.
“I will let Cal and the manager fight it out!”