Steve Bruce thinks only complacency can now prevent his Hull side from reaching the Sky Bet Championship play-off final.
The Tigers have at least one foot in the Wembley showpiece later this month after producing an almost perfect away performance to stun Derby 3-0 at the iPro Stadium - the scene of a comprehensive 4-0 thrashing during the regular season just last month.
Bruce, who led Hull to promotion to the Barclays Premier League three years ago, felt his players’ top-flight experience told on Saturday as the Tigers try to make an immediate return to the promised land.
With largely the same team which was relegated last season, Hull weathered a period of Derby pressure before taking the lead against the run of play through Abel Hernandez after half an hour.
Thereafter Hull settled, Derby’s confidence drained away and a Jason Shackell own goal five minutes before half-time put the visitors in control.
The Rams toiled in the second half as they tried in vain to get back into the game and Andy Robertson delivered what could be a killer blow to Derby’s promotion hopes deep into injury time on the break, sealing what in the end what was a comfortable victory to take into the return leg on Tuesday night.
Bruce said: “It was a really, really good performance from start to finish - which in a big game is great to see.
“We know we’re capable of that but what we have got in our locker is complacency, and we’ve got to guard against that on Tuesday. The reason why we haven’t made the top two is because we’ve thrown in a curve-ball every now and again.
“If you look at us at Bolton a couple of weeks ago compared to that, then that’s our Achilles heel. We’ve been up and down a little bit too much this season but we looked a very, very good team today and if we perform to the levels we’re capable of then it’s going to take a very good team to beat us.”