Dundee United midfielder Ryan Gauld and his youthful team-mates were determined to prove they were as strong as any previous Tannadice squad following gloomy predictions.
Having helped the Terrors reach the William Hill Scottish Cup final, the 18-year-old continued a memorable week when he was named on the PFA Scotland young player of the year shortlist along with club colleagues Stuart Armstrong and Andy Robertson.
United are also looking to continue their push for a European place through the Scottish Premiership when they take on cup final opponents St Johnstone on Saturday.
Manager Jackie McNamara’s success this season comes despite warnings from predecessor Peter Houston that the club risked going backwards after cutting the wage bill.
Gauld said: “Right through the team we have some very good players, so you would be hoping we’d be up in a top-four spot.
“I think it’s as good a squad as there has been in previous years. So the high standards were still there, expecting to do well in the cups and get a top-six finish.
“Obviously there were people saying it wasn’t such a strong squad in depth at the start of the season.
“Everyone wanted to show we were worthy of playing and that it was a strong squad.
“I think we have shown that this season. Some of the results and performances have been excellent.”
Gauld believes McNamara has been a key factor in himself and fellow academy graduates shining.
“He’s been brilliant because he lets us go out and enjoy ourselves,” the attacking midfielder said. “He encourages the type of football the whole team like to play.
“He knows what we are all capable of and he tells us to go out and express ourselves. That’s something you get told as a player when you’re very young as well, to enjoy it and give all you can give. That’s what the gaffer asks from us.”
But McNamara will have to bring his players back down to earth for their trip to McDiarmid Park, seven days after beating Rangers at Ibrox.
“It was a great win and everybody was buzzing through training and still are,” Gauld said.
“We can’t wait for the final but we can’t forget we have got five games and we are still aiming for as high a finish as we can.”