A 5-1 defeat ought to prompt a period of reflection but the focus at the club is on regaining momentum, not retreating over old ground. Mistakes were made and some lessons have not yet been learned about what it takes to play in the top flight but a visit to Celtic Park today does not leave room for a bout of introspection.
Alan Archibald, the Thistle manager, would discourage any melancholy. His team is adapting, and last season's run of glory was never going to be maintained in the Premiership. It is a campaign of establishing Thistle in the elite league, of landing occasional blows on opponents while coming to terms with the demands they now encounter.
Losing 5-1 to Motherwell at Firhill on Sunday was chastening but another challenge lies in wait now and, if Thistle become too self-conscious about their form, that will only further hinder them.
"If you dwell on that [defeat], you're on a hiding to nothing, you're going in with no confidence and you'll end up taking more and more poundings like that," said Aaron Muirhead, the Thistle defender. "There's different people at the club who work on stuff like that [keeping a positive mindset]. If you get seen moping about then the gaffer will quickly pull you up. We knew we were going to take defeats. Last year we were expected to win every game because we were pushing to win the league, but this year we knew we were going to be down fighting relegation. It's about how we bounce back but there are strong characters in the dressing room. We believe in ourselves. So the boys are quite confident we can stay up."
Muirhead missed the game against Motherwell with the after-effects of a virus that has afflicted other members of the squad. Coupled with injuries, suspensions and loan players returning to their parent clubs, Thistle are in need of reinforcements. Lyle Taylor joined on loan from Sheffield United last Monday morning and the former Falkirk striker is expected to play a role today at Celtic Park, perhaps even starting up front.
Archibald believes that Taylor is fit enough to compete for 70 minutes, but even a restricted involvement would rejuvenate Thistle. The team have played well this season, passing the ball with rhythm and intent, but they have at times lacked resolve and an air of decisiveness in attack. Taylor is also a bubbly character, so his presence alone will raise spirits, but he was also prolific at Falkirk and offers a different dimension as a striker who can run in behind defences.
"We'll [get a lift from the signing of Taylor], he did well last year against us, so we know what he's all about," said Muirhead. "He's a good signing, the boys are already talking about it. He's got a point to prove, I'm assuming it's not worked out for him down there for whatever reason, so he's coming here, and he's not played in the SPL before, with a chance to show what he can do."
A trip to Celtic Park can be daunting but it is also the reward for last season's title-winning campaign in the first division. Thistle could yet establish themselves as a top-tier club and that involves coping with the psychological challenges the players face as much as an ongoing test of their ability. The 5-1 defeat to Motherwell has to become a footnote in the season, not its defining moment.
"Everyone was down after the game, getting beaten 5-1, but there are strong characters in the dressing room and we know what's expected of us," said Muirhead. "We'll battle on. It doesn't matter when you go to Celtic Park, it's going to be tough. There's no pressure on us really, we're not expected to get anything from the game, but we'll try to give a good account of ourselves.
"Last year in the first division you could make mistakes and maybe get away with it. But as we've seen, any wee mistake you make can be punished because of that wee extra bit of quality. [Motherwell] brought [John] Sutton on, a great striker, and with one wee half chance it's a goal. We're learning the hard way, but I'm sure we will keep learning from our mistakes and pick up some valuable points."