If excuses were his thing, full-back Nathan Ralph wouldn’t be short of a few to explain Dundee’s below-par display as they were held at home by second-tier Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup on Saturday.
After the three-week winter break, the Dark Blues were not alone in looking rusty as they faced up to the Doonhamers at Dens Park.
Elsewhere, as other Premiership outfits got back to competitive action for the first time since the turn of the year, the fourth round saw Motherwell crash out at home to Ross County and Aberdeen held by minnows Stenhousemuir.
Dundee were also facing a team that has been in fine form of late and who, in veteran Stephen Dobbie, can boast one of the best strikers in the country, not just the Championship.
That they came to Dens and turned in a high level of performance should have come as no surprise.
Last, and certainly not least, what turned out to be the first leg of this tricky tie saw Dundee hand debuts to no fewer than four players in the shape of goalkeeper Seny Dieng and attackers Craig Curran, Andy Dales and Andrew Nelson.
With so many new faces involved, it was perhaps understandable the home team’s play at times lacked cohesion, though ironically at the weekend it was generally speaking the new players who were the pick of the bunch.
That’s all the get-outs listed and Ralph isn’t too interested in any of them. For him, the bottom line is Dundee should have been better than this.
“It was very frustrating on Saturday. I think our performance first half, we should be thankful we are still in the cup really,” he said.
“It wasn’t good enough. They’ve got the goal to go ahead and then Jesse has done brilliantly just before half-time to get it back and have us level.
“It was a good time for us to score and then we did definitely play better in the second half. On the whole, though, it was not good enough.
“I suppose it does happen in the cup, we saw that with some of the other results, and the big thing is we are still in there and have a replay where we can make it into the next round.
“So we maybe shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves over it but we’re still not happy with the performance.”
Like most players after a bad game, now the 25-year-old just wants to get out on a pitch again and try to put things right.
That’s why he breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday when Hearts’ televised clash with Livingston produced a result.
Had the Jambos not edged past the Lions, a replay would have been tonight and Dundee’s Premiership visit to Tynecastle would have been postponed.
“We have another game right away and that’s good. The one thing we didn’t want was no game this week because Hearts had drawn their cup-tie.
“The thing you want to do after the winter break is get back into playing regularly again right away and you don’t want to be missing games because of things like that. You want to get points on the board as soon as possible.”
Turning to the subject of the new arrivals, Ralph believes they will significantly boost the chances of top-flight survival.
So far, he’s been impressed by what he’s seen.
He added: “I thought the new lads looked sharp and direct. They definitely want to get on the ball, create and make things happen.
“I think them coming in this month will be good for the squad and they are going to help us going forward.”