After sealing third place in the league to earn a European place for the first time in their 21-year history, Inverness lifted their first major trophy with a 2-1 win over Falkirk. But one of their goalscorers at Hampden, Marley Watkins, is likely to leave the club in the summer, while skipper Graeme Shinnie definitely bowed out on Saturday having signed a pre-contract deal with Aberdeen.
“Can we go any better than this?” asked Hughes. “No, I don’t think we can if we are being realists. But it does not stop you setting standards and trying to maintain those standards, and keep driving the club forward.
“A big part of the leadership for me is make sure they get a taste for it and enjoy it. Because it will make you want it again and again and again.
“We are still hopeful that big [Edward] Ofere and Marley will stay here,” he added, with reference to Inverness’ two strikers on Saturday. “But they are in freedom of contract. Seeing Marley play today, someone will take a chance on him. If so, he goes with our best wishes.”
Rather than appeal to chairman Kenny Cameron for more funds, Hughes said he is aware of the club’s preference for unearthing unheralded talents desperate to make a name for themselves, in the manner of Watkins.
“I would not do that to the chairman,” said Hughes. “We do not work that way. We need to produce and find the next Watkins and Shinnie by ducking and diving and that’s what we have to do.
“I am just hoping that what we have done this year, and by playing in Europe, might encourage one or two players to come up to Inverness. Because that is a difficult task on its own.”