ST MIRREN skipper Jim Goodwin reckons the club's opening SPL fixture with Inverness Caley at Greenhill Road on Saturday, August 4 will be a real tester.
Saints failed to beat Terry Butcher's men at home in either of last term's two clashes, losing 2-1 in September and 1-0 in the penultimate game of the campaign on May 5.
But Goody, who is suspended for the first two games – against the Highlanders and Club 12 (who have replaced Rangers in the fixtures) – has no doubt about the importance of raising the curtain to the new season with a victory.
He said: "Our record against Inverness was not good last term. We lost both of our games with them at home while we got just one point in all four encounters from a 0-0 draw up there.
"So improving on our head-to-head with them will be a big motivation when we run out for the opening game. I don't think you can play down the importance of getting a win in your first fixture and the fact it is at home is a major plus and one we must take advantage of.
"I think the great thing for us is that we are actually playing on the first day of the season and not having to wait until the Monday like we did last season when we went to Dunfermline for our opener.
"On a personal note,it is frustrating to be missing the first two games due to suspension, but hopefully the boys can get us off to a winning start."
Goody added: "Obviously we have Club 12 which, I would imagine, will be Rangers, in our second game and I just hope that situation resolves itself soon. Hibs are third up for us at home and I will be back for that one, if selected, then we have Motherwell away to complete the first month. So, whatever way you look at it, it is a tough start but one we will be ready for."
When it comes to the all- important festive card, Inverness once again occupy a prominent place, with the Boxing Day trip no-one wants – a journey to the Caledonian Stadium.
Goody groaned: "Going there on Boxing Day is the game no-one wants, and now we have got it for the second time in three years and that is a tough one to take at a family time of the year.
"We start the festive card with a home game against Motherwell and it will be vital to get a win there so we have momentum going north. Then, after Inverness, it is Dundee United away and Kilmarnock at home, so there are no easy games there.
"But now the fixtures are out it brings the start of pre-season that bit closer and there is certainly plenty to talk about."