Alex Bruce admits his first few weeks under new Kilmarnock manager Angelo Alessio have been a “learning curve”.
Bruce re-signed for the club after the deadline to play in their Europa League games against Connah’s Quay Nomads but watched on in anguish with the Killie fans as the Welsh side knocked them out.
The shock exit has heightened the scrutiny of the Italian boss but Bruce believes the feel-good factor can instantly return with a good result against Rangers in Kilmarnock’s Ladbrokes Premiership opener on Sunday.
Bruce said: “Yeah it’s definitely different but with a new manager, new staff and new ideas I wasn’t expecting it to be the same.
“The manager has brought in fresh ideas and it’s been a learning curve.
“(The European defeat) was a massive downer for everyone involved in the club . No disrespect to Connah’s Quay but we were expecting to beat them.
“I had a watching brief for the two legs and for a game-and-a-half it was all going to plan.
“But it was one bad half of football that has been a real kick in the teeth for everyone concerned here.
“After all the hard work we put in last year we all wanted to have a good European run. We were all bitterly disappointed to get knocked out at such an early stage.
“One sure thing in football is that you always get a chance to put things right and there’s no better way to put a marker down and show what you’re worth than against a top quality side in Rangers on Sunday, live on the telly.
“When you lose any game you want to have a positive reaction.
“I’m sure the manager will back me up on that. He’ll be looking for a positive reaction from the lads.
“Everyone was hurt by the result so to get a good result against Rangers on the first day of the season will be the perfect way to put that right.”
Bruce is set to come up against a familiar opponent in Jermain Defoe.
“I’ve had a lot of battles with Jermain over the years,” he said. “He’s been a top quality player. You don’t play for the clubs he has and to the age he’s at now without being a top quality striker.
“He’s a clever footballer, he’s got great movement in the box, and the reason why Steven (Gerrard) has taken him to Ibrox is because he’s a finisher and a handful.
“We’ll have to be wary of him. I’ve tried to kick him a few times down the years but I’ve always enjoyed playing against him.”