Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson admits having to fight for third behind Celtic and Rangers is tough to take.
It is even more galling for the 20-year-old that the Dons are trailing Motherwell in that battle to be best of the rest behind the Glasgow duo.
Aberdeen have fallen four points behind third-placed Well in the race for automatic European qualification.
Struggling in front of goal, the Reds have registered just three wins in the last 10 Premiership matches.
The Dons finished league runners-up four seasons in a row under manager Derek McInnes but for the last two years have been edged out by Rangers and Celtic into a fight for third.
Asked if that frustrates him, Ferguson said: “Yes it does. It is difficult to take it in because I want to win everything I go into.
“I am not a good loser. I don’t like it.
“I want to win every cup I enter and every league.
“Realistically though when you look at the finances and the squads, both Rangers and Celtic are obviously miles ahead in those departments.
“We just have to realistically look at the best we can do for the second half of the season.
“That is third spot because the Old Firm are pulling away from everyone at the minute.
“We want to secure third and get European football again.
“In the Scottish Cup we can hopefully go on a run and get ourselves back to Hampden.”
Dons boss Derek McInnes has accepted the recent lack of pace and incision in the final third has been a problem and has signed Matty Kennedy and Dylan McGeouch to address that.
However, the attacking problems continued with Aberdeen being held 0-0 at St Mirren.
Some of the 916-strong travelling Red Army made their frustrations vocal before full-time with chants questioning the manager’s future at Pittodrie.
Ferguson is confident Aberdeen can rediscover their winning form and insists it just needs a “spark” to ignite their season.
He said: “It has not been good enough. We want to get the consistency over a period of time where we go on a run and win four or five games in a row.
“It has been a case of winning a couple then drawing or losing.
“If we want to get European football we need to be more consistent and go on a longer unbeaten run.
“We need a bit of a spark to kick-start something.”
Next up for Aberdeen is an away clash against Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday.
Aberdeen lost 5-0 in Govan earlier this season but battled back from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw in their last meeting at Pittodrie in December.
Last season the Reds knocked Rangers out of both domestic cup tournaments with wins in Glasgow.
Ferguson scored the winner in a 1-0 defeat of Steven Gerrard’s side at Hampden to set up a League Cup final slot.
Ferguson said: “We see every game as a must win.
“We don’t ever go into a game thinking its okay, you can lose or draw it. You are not going to get away with it at a big club.”
Ferguson has started every game he has been available for since signing from Hamilton in summer 2018 and will be in the heart of midfield at Ibrox.
He will be joined by Funso Ojo and new signing McGeouch, who was secured from Sunderland earlier this month.
Ferguson said: “Dylan is a top player and when I was 18 at Hamilton I played against him a few times when he was at Hibs.
“He has quality, experience and a lot of things he can add to really help our team push on.
“Funso and Dylan are both calm, experienced heads in the middle of the park and it is good to have them in there.
“Hopefully we can create a good partnership going forward.
“The more you get to know one another and play together, the more you can create things and get the ball moving to each other.
“I don’t mind where I play as long as I am on the pitch.
“If I play further forward, I am just hoping I can add a few goals to my game.”