MANAGER John Hughes insists his Inverness players have no reason to feel ashamed of their midweek League Cup exit to Rangers.
The Ibrox side edged out the Highlanders thanks to Lewis Macleod’s deflected strike 12 minutes from time to set up a third-round meeting with Falkirk.
The 1-0 win was the first time Ally McCoist’s side had beaten top-flight opposition in two years but Hughes insists the fallen Glasgow giants are more than a match for the vast majority of the Scottish Premiership.
He said: “The big frustration comes from you guys (the media) thinking that Rangers are mugs because they are playing in the Championship. They are far from it.
“If they were in the SPL they would be very close to that second spot. That was what we were up against on Tuesday.
“We were playing Rangers at Ibrox, who have a lot of ex-internationals and experienced players in their side. We know what we were up against.
“We didn’t start well enough and there was a bit of trepidation in our play. We settled down though but when we opened up later on, we left ourselves a bit vulnerable and lost a goal from a deflection, which was disappointing.
“But there’s not too much frustration with the guys in my side. I just feel for them because I know how hard they work and how good they can become as a team. There was an opportunity to go and win the match on Tuesday but they came up just short.
“It wasn’t for the want of trying - we just came up a bit short in the final third.”
Caley Thistle had led the Premiership going into last Saturday’s meeting with Partick at Firhill.
But they saw both their proud unbeaten record and run of six successive clean sheets wiped out by a 3-1 defeat before they lost again to the Light Blues three days later.
Last season’s League Cup runners-up will now look to bounce back from those back-to-back defeats when they take on St Johnstone’s William Hill Scottish Cup winners at home on Saturday.
But Hughes will have to hope Billy McKay can rediscover his scoring touch.
The Northern Irishman has not found the net since the opening day of the season and missed decent chances to score during both of the recent losses in Glasgow.
“We are playing the Scottish Cup winners and that is some feat,” said Hughes. “But we’re confident of getting a result.
“I’ve been watching Billy in training and it’s only a matter of time before he gets back on the goal trail. I’m quite sure as soon as he gets next goal he will be off and running.”