ST MIRREN manager Jack Ross is keen for his new look squad not to dwell on recent league results and grab their chance at cup glory.
The Buddies face League One side East Fife at Bayview tomorrow in the Scottish Cup fifth round before next weekend welcoming Welsh champions The New Saints in the semi-final of the IRN-BRU Cup.
The Paisley faithful could be excused for not being overcome by excitement at the two cup runs while their side languish at the bottom of the Championship, on the brink of dropping to Scotland's third tier.
But Saints have become something of a cup team this season, in nine cup games this term they have won eight, including shock wins away at Dundee and Hibs.
The Buddies have failed to replicate that form in the Championship, returning a paltry two wins from 23 games, leaving Ross's side seven points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Ross is eager that Saints put the league predicament to one side, for now, and take full advantage of these cup opportunities.
He said: "I often get asked if it's a welcome distraction, I don't view it as that. They are hugely important games for us, the opportunity to progress to the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup doesn't come around that often.
"The same goes for next week with a chance to reach a final. They are big games for us because if we can do that and get some victories in the league the end of the season starts to look really exciting."
The fortnight break from league action, before the all-important clash with second-bottom Ayr United, gives the 10 players Saints signed in January a chance to become accustomed to life in Paisley.
Ross conceded it was not ideal to integrate so many players into the squad at a crucial time of the season, but he expects all his players to be up to speed when league action resumes.
He said: "We've made a number of changes in January and in an ideal world you have five or six weeks in pre-season to bed the players in.
"But I think having a full week together has helped the players, I think they've got to know each other a bit better.
"Harry (Davis) as an example only came in last Thursday, he hasn't played in Scotland before so it has taken him some time to get to know everyone.
"Having the group together for this week has been hugely beneficial, along with the games we have, the more we train and play together as a group the more it will help."
While 10 players were welcomed in January, 10 departed the Paisley 2021 Stadium, many hadn't cut it this season but some had formed an important part of Ross's team.
Kyle McAllister was snapped up by Derby County while Jason Naismith moved to Premiership side Ross County.
Despite that Ross was pleased with the business done by the club and thinks it will pay dividends in the Championship run in.
He added: "I feel it (the squad) is stronger than when we went into the window. We have to change how we play a bit, we had really good natural width with Lewis Morgan and Kyle McAllister, with Kyle leaving the players we have brought in are slightly different.
"It's about finding a system that suits them, I think we have done that in training and hopefully we'll see that because we have some good players here now middle to front and better options all round.
"I wouldn't have thought it would have been as many as that but a lot of it was dictated by players going out. People think we had been thrown a pot of money but the vast majority of it was done within what the budget already was.
"Don't get me wrong getting Kyle in probably allowed us to get Adam (Eckersley) and Harry (Davis) in. That had its plus points other than obviously losing a player of Kyle's ability.
"I didn't think there would be as many changes but I think it has strengthened our position as a whole."