Defensive lynchpin Ian Sharps admitted his side were never at the races as they slipped to a 1-0 friendly defeat
Defensive lynchpin Ian Sharps admitted his side were never at the races as they slipped to a 1-0 friendly defeat at the hands of Scottish Cup holders Heart of Midlothian.
John Sutton's strike shortly after half-time settled the low-key affair as Steve Evans' men tasted defeat at the New York Stadium for the first time and the big defender acknowledged his side failed to scale the heights reached in previous friendly encounters.
"We weren't at our usual levels and we know we can play better," he insisted. "Three games in a week has been tough and we have to up our game from this."
The decisive moment saw Sutton sneak on the blindside of the ex-Shrewsbury defender after David Noble was robbed of possession by the lively Ryan McGowan and speaking to www.themillers.co.uk afterwards, Sharps couldn't hide his disappointment over the nature of Hearts' winning goal.
"We're very disappointed with the goal," he added. "It was probably my fault but we were disappointed with how we gave the ball away, but those are the things we want to eradicate before the season starts."
Despite the friendly setback, Sharps has been impressed by how the Millers have evolved on and off the pitch since his first spell at the club and he insists the club are now geared towards a tilt at League Two promotion.
"The club has a new manager and a new ground and hopefully the club is going in a positive way," he added.
"It's all geared towards promotion and the club needs to back itself. It helps if the team, club and the fans are all pushing in the right direction as hopefully we can aspire to our goal of promotion.
"The stadium is obviously a great place to play football. It's a far cry from the Don Valley and it's somewhere we should try and make a fortress.
"At Shrewsbury, we had a long unbeaten home run and that's something we've got to try and do here as we have to make it hard as possible for other teams coming here."
With the bookmakers making the Millers red-hot favourites to win League Two outright, Sharps is realistic enough to understand negotiating the rough and tumble of League Two will be no easy task.
"Obviously, the bookies know what their talking about," he said tongue-in-cheek.
"But they'll be a lot of clubs thinking they can make the top three, maybe ten to 12 clubs.
"It'll be about ten to 15 games in when the season will take shape and we have to make sure we are up there at this stage."
Before the league campaign starts on August 18, the Millers complete their home pre-season schedule with a mouth-watering clash with local neighbours Sheffield United.
With a bumper crowd expected, Sharps admits his side will have to raise their game against Danny Wilson's League One outfit.
"We will have to get going again Tuesday," he added. "It's a big game and we will be looking to win but it's all about getting another 90 minutes under our belt and progressing as a team and as a club.
"The fans will want us to win but it's more important, we win on the first game of the season."