The group stages of the Viaplay Cup always appear to come around again at an alarming rate but for Partick Thistle, the effect is even more pronounced.

Just 41 days separate the Jags’ final match of the 2022/23 campaign and the new season that kicks off with a trip to Peterhead this afternoon, and it can’t arrive soon enough for Kris Doolan’s men.

The Premiership play-off final defeat in Dingwall will take some getting over for players and supporters alike and although those wounds are still raw, there remains a sense of cautious optimism at the Wyre Stadium At Firhill for what the new term will bring.

Aaron Muirhead played the full 120 minutes against Ross County and took Thistle’s first penalty in the shoot-out, coolly dispatching his spot-kick from 12 yards. It wasn’t enough in the end as Malky Mackay’s side triumphed in sudden death but Muirhead is more interested in what lies ahead than the pain of the past.

READ MORE: The kids are all right: Doolan keen to give academy players first-team chance

“I’m getting there now,” he said. “Obviously the hurt of last season took a wee while to get over but getting back in, meeting some of the new lads and seeing the boys again – it helps to get the head down and focus on the new season.

“You have never got long off so it’s maybe a good thing that you’re back in and looking forward to the next season.

“For myself, it was spending time with my family. My kids weren’t long in helping me get over it. At the end of the day there is a life outside of football, as much as it hurts.

“It hurt for all the players and the fans, and it will maybe hurt for a while. It’s one of them where it will always kind of be there but it’s about parking that, learning from it and using it as motivation to go again this year.

Glasgow Times:

“There’s the excitement of the new season. Some boys will leave and others will come in, so they won’t be suffering that same hurt.

“I think the boys that were involved in it can draw on it and use that experience. It will be as tough a league as it has ever been this year but hopefully we can draw from that and try and go and do something special.

“It’s one of them where it’s a short break but it is the start of a new season. Friendlies are friendlies and they serve a purpose, but competitive football is what you want to be involved in. Everyone is looking forward to it.

“The fans will be there again and everybody saw how amazing their backing was last year. Fingers crossed this year can be the same because whether it’s away from home or at Firhill, when the fans get behind you it’s that old cliché: they really are the twelfth man and they really bring the best out of the boys.”

READ MORE: Graham planning to end playing career at Partick Thistle...just not anytime soon

After playing through the pain barrier for large spells of the previous campaign, an injection during the close season has Muirhead feeling back to his best.

“I’m feeling better,” he explained. “I had an operation on a hernia last year and then because of the way I am, I came back quicker than I probably should have.

“I was managing it from game to game so I went and got an injection in the close season and that seems to have settled it. Touch wood, that’s it settled and I can play pain-free for the first time in a wee while.”

Playing without pain will not be the only novel experience for Muirhead this afternoon. Following the departures of Darren Brownlie and Kevin Holt, the 32-year-old has a new partner in central defence: Wasiri Williams, who joined on a free transfer after his Swansea City contract expired last month.

“I’ve only played 60 minutes of a friendly with him but he seems like a good lad,” Muirhead said. “He has settled into the changing room well.

“He is a lot younger than me but hopefully I will be helping him as well as looking to him to help me. There will probably be other players coming in to push us for our places but he has certainly settled in well and he certainly has the attributes, so fingers crossed he can be a good signing for us.”