This piece is an extract from yesterday's The Rugby Road Gates newsletter, which is emailed out at 6pm every Wednesday. To receive our full, free Kilmarnock newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

I love a midweek game under the lights at Rugby Park – especially when you can still feel the mild evening air around this time of year.

Throughout composing this newsletter series though, I have found them rather challenging to negotiate given the timing of releasing my pieces and Killie’s kick-offs on a Wednesday night. Tonight throws up another of those occasions, so I wanted to make a concerted effort to write something that wouldn’t be outdated by the time 9.30pm rolls around.

I was at Rugby Park on Tuesday for the club’s latest press conference, where Derek McInnes and Danny Armstrong were put up. Fortunately, both are good talkers and I have plenty of unused quotes, so those who are signed up for this will get a look at what they had to say on Europe, team of the year and more. Enjoy!

“That was the goal,” Armstrong said. “I’ve never played at that level, you see Hearts and Aberdeen playing some big games and in big, different stadiums. I was told we could play Ajax, you never know what would happen, I can’t imagine they would enjoy coming to Rugby Park, it is what it lives up to - people don’t like coming here and we’d need to make it as difficult as possible.

“It’s an exciting time and the boys have earned it. We can take teams by surprise here - maybe at the start we took teams by surprise and some teams were probably dreading coming to Rugby Park but the best part was that we showed we can do it away from Rugby Park as well. That was important for us as a team.

“Stuart [Findlay] has spoken a little bit about playing in Europe the last time, Rory [McKenzie] hasn’t. He’s Mr Kilmarnock and it probably still haunts him. He’ll be excited to rectify things when the games come around in July.

“I remember watching the game and thinking ‘That’s a sore one’ because they’d won 2-1 in Wales then lost 2-0 at home. The funny thing is that at Ross County we’d beaten that team a few months before it but I thought Killie would wipe the floor with Connah’s Quay. But that’s the pressure of playing in Europe for you, they were underdogs and they knocked Kilmarnock out. I’m sure the people who were here will learn from that. 

READ MORE: Danny Armstrong on potential of signing new Killie deal

“The League Cup was one of the manager’s messages at the start - you can either have Annan or a lower-league team, somewhere you have to travel to. They’re tough games and it’s going to be an exciting summer knowing what we’re going to be coming back to.”

The gaffer insists he’s not paid much attention to the glamourous ties Killie could potentially pull out of the hat in the Europa League qualifying round two. That doesn’t mean his family hasn’t kept him up-to-date with the ever-changing Google Docs list like every other Killie fan.

“I had a conversation with my son the other day. He mentioned Molde, Braga and Ajax. I’ve not really looked at that. It’s forever changing and you don’t know.

“We know we won’t be a seed in that first tie, we know we’ll probably be at home on July 25 and we know we’re probably going to get a team with a European pedigree.

“Once the draw comes around it’ll be exciting, even more so once the game comes around. It would be great to get a name, or a team of standing, which I think we will get looking at the teams. Hopefully, we can fine-tune our work in pre-season and be ready for it."

None of us need to be reminded of what happened five years ago this summer. However, McInnes admits he tried to assist the club in their preparations, but pointed out it’s time to create happier memories on the European stage rather than dwell on the past.

“I wasn’t here then,” he said sharply. “At Aberdeen, we were in Dublin and Connah’s Quay asked to play us in a pre-season game. I remember we played them and they were big and physical, it was baking hot. I phoned Alex Dyer and I sent him a copy of the game. Obviously, it was a surprise when Kilmarnock lost the tie and there were a couple of players still here that experienced that.

“The amount of times we’ve spoken about Europe this season and the next thing you hear is ‘Connah’s Quay,’ we’ve got an opportunity to change that and hopefully we can and there will be other, better memories for Killie fans in Europe.”

McInnes was reminded that Findlay would be suspended for the first leg of the Europa League tie on July 25. He simply responded: “He’s not my player yet, he’s still obviously on loan.” Reading between the lines, perhaps this is a clue that the defender will return next season. Or maybe I’m talking rubbish.

READ MORE: Stuart Findlay addresses possible permanent Kilmarnock move

On tonight’s game, Armstrong commented: “You can’t beat a full Rugby Park. When we put them out of the cup and beat them from 1-0 down, I don’t think any club has done that to Celtic so hopefully it’ll be in the back of their minds. There’s no better game than to try and stop them winning the league.

“We had a great day when we cemented fourth on Saturday and we want to showcase what we’ve done this season. We want it to be about Kilmarnock rather than Celtic.”

Harshly excluded from the Premiership team of the year, yes. Bothered about it? No. The 26-year-old insists he’s not taken it to heart despite being one of the most productive players in Scotland… again!

“It’s the players who vote for it, so you can’t be too disheartened by it. Maybe I annoyed a few players on the pitch! Maybe I wasn’t the most popular out there.

“I got messages from people saying ‘You should be in there,” and it’s enough. It is what it is. I’ll agree with what the gaffer says, there should be a few of the Killie players in there. What we’ve achieved this season deserves recognition, but thankfully Davie [Watson] won Young Player of the Year.”