Alan Mannus concedes that Hibernian will make a top-six spot more difficult for St Johnstone but the Saints goalkeeper insists he is focused first simply on survival.
The McDiarmid Park club have achieved a top-half finish for the past six years and started this season with three victories and a draw at Celtic Park, which helped Tommy Wright win the manager of the month award for August with loan attacker Michael O’Halloran named player of the month after scoring four goals.
Hibs, Saturday’s visitors to McDiarmid Park, are traditionally one of Scottish football’s big clubs and have returned to the top flight after a three-year absence.
Mannus believes the Easter Road side will add strength to the top part of the league but is looking for Saints to make sure they stay away from the bottom.
The 35-year-old Northern Ireland international said: “Every year we have been in the top six we have said it will be even harder next year and we keep managing to do it somehow.
“It will be more difficult with Hibs back. It is probably the strongest that the league has been in terms of looking at the top six, for the last five years or so.
“You can see who the favourites are for the top four or five so you still have one or two positions that other teams will be looking at - and we will certainly be trying to do that.
“Most importantly we don’t want to be in or around the relegation area towards the end of the season or at any point.
“Maybe people will think we don’t need to look at it that way but when you look at Dundee United or Hibs in the past it can happen to clubs that are bigger than ourselves.
“It is not something that you are constantly thinking about - but you are aware of it at the start of the season that you don’t want to end up at that point.
“It has happened to bigger teams than us and it can very easily happen to us if we go on a poor run - so you want to avoid that.
“It is important that the club stays in this league and then if we have secured that then the next thing we want to do is be in the top six.”