Going head-to-head with Martin Boyle after seven months without a competitive game could have been a daunting task for Harry Milne.
But the Cove Rangers defender emerged the victor in their individual battle in the Betfred Cup and insists he can take confidence from stepping up against a higher level of opponent.
Cove were beaten 2-1 on the day, but took great credit for their performance against Premiership opposition.
They followed that up with a 3-1 win over East Fife in their first League One encounter and head to Balmoor to face Peterhead tomorrow.
Milne has relished the step up to SPFL level, having played solely in the Highland League for Cove prior to their promotion last year.
Coming up against Boyle – who hails from Aberdeen – in his first game since March gives him a major boost for the season ahead.
Milne said: “It was tough. He’s so quick – I knew he would try run the ball up against me as he’s quicker than I am. It was about getting tight to him, but not so tight that he could roll you.
“It gives you a lot of confidence going into the season ahead. Without disrespect to other teams, that will probably be the best team we’ll face, unless we draw one of the big boys in the Scottish Cup.
“Showing you can put in a performance like that against those kinds of players puts you in the frame of mind that you can do it week in, week out.
“Form is temporary, but it’s about keeping your levels high and working hard each week.”
It has been a continued tale of success for Milne since he broke into the Cove side as a teenager under John Sheran.
He was a regular in their Highland League title successes and thrived with the step up to League Two last year. Early indications of him doing similar in League One are positive.
Milne added: “When I first came I was only 18, but you could see the ambition was there. Everyone had the ambition of playing a bit higher and being the best. Our time in the Highland League showed, I think, we were the best team in there.
“We won three league titles out of four; the one we didn’t win, we lost on goal-difference. We had a stupid 1-1 draw at Strathspey, which would have won us the league. We were always challenging for every trophy.
“I don’t think there was any doubt we could all play higher. For me personally, Cove gave me a good platform.
“John Sheran put me in the team and I managed to keep my place. I’ve developed well in the team, but that comes with playing with better players and coaches.”
Cove’s trip to Peterhead tomorrow is the first time the clubs will have faced each other as league opposition since 1999-00, when the Blue Toon played their last campaign as a Highland League club.
Milne said: “It has the potential (for local rivalry). Montrose and Forfar are quite close, but Peterhead does seem to have a different edge to it.
“All games are going to be big this season; you have to be on it each weekend. The boys are in a good frame of mind, so hopefully we can keep the good start going.”