ROSS County slipped to a 2-0 friendly defeat against Dutch side NEC Nijmegen at the Global Energy Stadium in Dingwall today (Saturday).
NEC Nijmegen were the champions of the Dutch Second Division last season, winning 33 of their 38 fixtures, so arrived in the Highlands with an assured air of confidence about them as they get set for their top-flight return.
For County, after a productive week in Hungary, they were keen to get another 90 minutes under their belts before their Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership opener at champions Celtic in seven days time.
There's little doubt that Nijmegen represented a real step up in class for the new-look Staggies this afternoon.
County welcomed back quicker than expected defender Chris Robertson after he sustained a hand injury which was expected to keep him out until after next weekend.
There was no Scott Boyd or Jamie Reckord in an otherwise full strength starting 11 for the hosts.
Jim McIntyre had two trialists on the bench, Stoke City goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann and Croatian forward Andrej Keric.
NEC, kitted out in all white, settled well but early signs were good too from the Staggies with Brian Graham showing attacking intent on more than one occasion.
County created the first opportunity of the game after eight minutes when keeper Hannes Halldorsson got down smartly to clutch a downward Graham header after the striker met a Michael Gardyne delivery.
That stung NEC and Christian Santos cracked a 25-yarder on target, with Scott Fox beating the ball away to safety.
It was a decent open game and Craig Curran was next to have a pop with a low swerver around the post to conclude a satisfying attack for the Ross-shire side.
On 26 minutes, Raffaele De Vita had a go from a free-kick which was fully 25 yards out. It was a decent hit but the keeper clutched it.
The Italian then went on a darting run and guided a drive just left of the right post with Halldorsson at full sttretch.
De Vita then became the creator when he swiped the ball into the box and Graham's header was held by the goalkeeper.
County captain Andrew Davies came close to scoring when he flashed a header wide on 38 minutes when he connected with a De Vita cross.
Three minutes before the break, Robertson made the difference at the other end by clearing a net-bound Sjoerd Ars shot off the goal-line following another swift attack from the Dutch.
Liam Boyce, who replaced Graham at the start of the second half, almost got on the scoresheet within two minutes when he drew a save from Haldorsson after Gardyne put him through.
The Dutch were tidy in possession and Christian Santos fed the ball on to Limbombe and his cut-back was steered just wide by Navarone Foor after 54 minutes when he seemed certain to score.
Trialist sub Keric had a go from 12 yards after Boyce picked him out but Halldorsson was equal to it on 61 minutes.
Speedy Limbombe had County on their toes and his shot in the next move was deflected wide for a corner.
The visitors were always a threat on the move and they got their reward on 67 minutes when sub Kristjan Emilsson steered a low shot past Bachmann into the net after a break down the right side of the park.
Only four minutes later, Emilsson doubled his own and his team's tally when he looped the ball over the keeper after Amaarouk passed it on to him.
Rocco Quinn almost drove County back into the contest but his smashing shot rattled the crossbar.
The match continued to flow nicely but there was no more scoring and McIntyre will prepare his troops for their trip to Parkhead to start the season next Saturday.
Ross County: Fox (Trialist Bachman 46), Fraser, Foster (Holden 46), Quinn, Robertson, Davies, Gardyne (Dingwall 59), Murdoch (Franks 46), Graham (Boyce 46), Curran (Trialist Keric 59), De Vita (McShane 59).
NEC Nijmegen: Halldorsson, Appiah (Kamara 85), van Eijden, Golla (Muller 85), Buysse (Leiwakabessy 76), Breinburg (Celik 59), Ars (Emilsson 46), Limbombe, Santos (Amaarouk 64), Bikel, Foor. Subs not used: Smit.
Referee: Don Robertson.