Formartine United captain Stuart Anderson admits he can’t see anyone but Cove Rangers winning the Highland League.
The Pitmedden team were beaten 2-0 by the champions on Saturday at the Balmoral Stadium.
Cove are three points clear at the top of the table with 27 points from nine matches and a game in hand.
While other sides such as nearest challengers Fraserburgh, Brora and Inverurie will be looking to push the Granite City side, Formartine are some way back.
They sit seventh with 16 points. Skipper Anderson says they are only focusing on trying to get back to winning ways, having taken just one point from their last three league fixtures.
He said: “I think, for us, we have to concentrate on the next game and not look any further ahead.
“We need a performance and we need a result and at times like these we need to stick together.
“In my opinion whoever finishes above Cove will win the league, but I can’t see anyone doing that because they are a really good side.
“It isn’t a disgrace to lose 2-0 to them, but you’ve got to be ambitious and we want to match them.
“We need to dust ourselves down and go again. Football changes quickly and if you win your next game you can go from there.”
In recent games Formartine have also had problems taking penalties.
On Saturday Graeme Rodger saw his spot-kick saved by Stuart McKenzie and the weekend before four players, including Anderson, missed in the shoot-out against Coleraine in the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup.
The failures from 12 yards are something Anderson can’t understand.
He added: “I can’t explain it, but we obviously need to work on it.
“That isn’t pointing fingers at anybody either, because we have all been there. I was in the situation of missing against Coleraine.
“I don’t know what it is, I can’t explain it and I’ve never been involved in something like it.
“But that is glossing over Saturday’s game because Cove were the better team and we need to look at ourselves individually and as a team.”
Formartine are not in action this weekend because it is Scottish Cup first-round weekend and they have a bye into the second round by virtue of finishing second last season. Their next game is against Fraserburgh at North Lodge Park on September 29.
Anderson said: “I think we would rather as a group have a game to try to put the Cove game to bed.
“It’s a week off so it will give us an opportunity to work on things in training.”