And it certainly worked as, although they failed to score yet again, the Ulstermen earned a memorable 0-0 draw at Windsor Park.
Afterwards a proud Hughes told the BBC: "It is a great result for us. To keep a clean sheet is great and we nearly nicked a goal.
"From goalkeeper to the frontmen I thought we were fantastic.
"We had a full house and tried to give the supporters something to shout about.
"For the young lads who have just come into the team it must have been a terrific atmosphere but they responded well.
"The manager should be proud of them and they should be proud of themselves."
The result allowed Greece to stay top of Euro 2004 qualifying Group Six, with Nikos Dabizas playing the full 90 minutes in their 1-0 home win over Ukraine.
Elsewhere Shay Given kept a clean sheet as the Republic of Ireland continued their improved form under new boss Brian Kerr with a 2-0 win over Georgia at Lansdowne Road, but Jermaine Jenas didn’t make the bench as England beat Slovakia 2-1 at the Riverside.