Rangers midfielder Josh Windass admits he has no excuse for his Hampden no-show.
The former Accrington Stanley playmaker made his first start in over a month as Gers faced Celtic in Sunday’s Betfred Cup semi-final.
But it was a drab display from the youngster as the Light Blues fell to Moussa Dembele’s last-gasp winner.
Windass had been hoping to match his performance on his Old Firm debut last month, when Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers picked the 22-year-old out at full-time to congratulate him on his showing despite the Ibrox side suffering a 5-1 hammering.
Since that Parkhead clash, however, Windass has spent four weeks nursing a hamstring injury.
He received just a brief 20-minute run out against Inverness last week before being thrust back into action against the Hoops.
But he could not repeat his bright display and was hooked by boss Mark Warburton with 20 minutes remaining.
However, Windass refused to blame his off day on his injury woes.
He said: “Sunday was probably the worst I’ve played since I’ve been here, which is disappointing.
“I’d love to have played better but some days you just don’t turn up. Unfortunately for me Sunday was one of those days.
“It was my first start since coming back from being injured. I’ve had a hamstring injury but I wouldn’t have played in a big game like that if I wasn’t fit. I was fit so I’ve no excuses.
“I just think on the ball I wasn’t my usual self. I gave simple passes away. I couldn’t say why that was. I’m just disappointed in my performance.”
Hoops defender Erik Sviatchenko claims Rangers have made no inroads on closing the gap with the champions since last month’s Parkhead pasting - but Windass disagreed.
He said: “The scoreline is not good enough but way better than losing 5-1.
“The performance on Sunday was dogged but we weren’t as good on the ball as we’d have wanted to be. Off it though we were quite resilient.
“We made blocks and tackles which is not what people expect of this Rangers team. That’s a good thing because it shows a different side to us.
“But on the ball we weren’t our usual selves which was disappointing.
“They were the better team on the day. They played better in bigger spells than we did and that’s the reason why they won the game.
“People talk about this gap but Celtic have got three or four times our budget, so in that respect it’s quite difficult [to close it].
“We are working hard each day and I think you saw yesterday compared to the last game it is starting to get closer.”
Gers return to Ladbrokes Premiership action on Wednesday night when they host St Johnstone.
And Windass reckons the sight of a sold-out Ibrox is all the home side need to lift their spirits after that weekend set-back.
He said: “I don’t think it’s hard to get motivated when you’re playing at Ibrox every week in front of 50,000 fans.
“There’s no better motivation to go out there and try to send those fans home happy.
“Hopefully we will learn from Sunday’s match and pick up six points from these two games this week.
“There’s no point playing football if you’re not trying to be the best you can be.
“We still feel we have the players to match Celtic, even if we’ve not shown it in the two games so far.
“We’re just going to go into each league game now and do our best. Hopefully that will stand us in good stead and help us challenge Celtic.”