Paul Hartley is confident Cove Rangers will be able to hold their own in League One next term.
The Aberdeen side enjoyed a dream debut season in the Scottish League, culminating in being crowned champions last week after Dundee belatedly voted to pass the SPFL’s resolution to end the 2019-20 season in the bottom three divisions.
When football resumes after the shutdown, Cove will be competing in the same league as Partick Thistle, Falkirk and Airdrieonians as well as fellow north-east side Peterhead.
That is providing the current reconstruction talks which began today do not radically change the structure of Scottish football.
But Hartley believes his side have shown throughout their title-winning campaign in League Two that they will be ready for the challenge of competing at a higher level, even against full-time teams and others operating under a much bigger budget.
He said: “I think on our day we can give anybody a run for their money.
“We have to compete in every match next season.
“We will need to have a strong enough squad to do that.
“It will be a tough league with a lot of experienced teams.
“It will be difficult and we will have to go in there with our eyes wide open.
“This is going to be tough and the players will know that. It will definitely be a step up to what we have been used to.
“The key thing will be getting our preparation right for every match.”
Cove have made no secret of their desire to eventually become a full-time club but Hartley said securing promotion has not pushed those plans forward.
The Cove boss says the club may even look at adopting a hybrid model with a mixture of full-time and part-time players.
He said: “That would help but that won’t happen in this coming season.
“That might be a year down the line. To do it this season would be too quick.
“Eventually do we want to be full-time as a club? Definitely.
“As a hybrid model? It is something worth looking at.
“I know Raith and Airdrie have that. Will we do that this year? No.”
Cove completed the season without dropping a single point in their 14 home games and scored 76 goals in their 28 fixtures – 27 more than second-place Edinburgh City.
Hartley believes his players deserve enormous credit for being so ruthless throughout the season.
He said: “We didn’t have to adjust too much in terms of personnel. We had a good core of players and we added to that throughout the season.
“We tried to use the loan system as well as we could.
“There was a real togetherness and spirit in the group of players, you could even see that with the way they worked together on the training pitch.
“The players had to fit into our style and way of thinking. It was different for the players and some people like change and some people don’t.
“The players have been first class. I have to give them so much credit. I also have to give my staff so much credit – Gordon Young, Tam Ritchie and Gary Hake, as well as the kitman and the physiotherapists.
“A big part for us was video analysis. That is something the team were not used to.
“They had to buy into all these things to improve and give us the edge over everybody else.
“All of the players played their part. The attackers and wide players always get a lot of credit.
“But the main thing for us was always about the team and how we performed as a unit.
“It was down to the full squad, not just 11 players.”