Boss Derek McInnes today fired a broadside at critics of his rebuilt Dons after booking a League Cup semi-final spot.
Aberdeen edged past Hibs 6-5 in a tense penalty shoot-out at Easter Road to keep alive hopes of a first trophy since 2014.
The Reds practised spot-kicks on the eve of the game and progressed when Hibs’ Thomas Agyepong’s effort rattled the bar.
McInnes reckons doubters have been too quick to write off his side after a slow start to the season.
And he is confident dumping an in-form Hibs side out of the cup can help propel the Dons to the level he wants.
McInnes said: “We are not where we want to be at the minute but we are certainly not as bad or as poor as maybe one or two people think.
“We have a lot going for us and hopefully the added confidence from the cup win and the resilience that was required will bolster my squad.
“Some players can take some belief and encouragement from the result. It is another step towards where we want to be.
“When you are not at your best it is still important to pick up points and win games.
“That is where we are at the moment.
“We have stayed quiet and have only lost once this season and that was when playing for 87 minutes with 10 men.”
The tie went to penalties after the sides were locked at a 0-0 stalemate after extra-time.
In the shoot-out captain Graeme Shinnie netted the opener before Stevie Mallan was denied by a superb save from Joe Lewis.
Gary Mackay-Steven and Hibs’ Vykintas Slivka both scored before Niall McGinn’s spot kick was saved by Adam Bogdan to make it 2-2.
After that Bruce Anderson, Stevie May, Chris Forrester and Scott McKenna scored for Aberdeen with Hibs also converting their spot kicks.
Then Aberdeen secured a semi spot when Agyepong hit the crossbar.
McInnes said: “We practiced penalties on Monday and I was confident with each of them that they would score.
“I had seven volunteers to take the first five which is always pleasing.
“With a keeper like Joe Lewis you always feel confident.
“When it comes to taking penalties there’s a mental strength and a technique required.
“I’m delighted my team showed the bravery, courage and technique to get the job done.
“There’s enough good about us to get results but we’re still looking for that slickness and attacking threat.
“When you go on a cup run, there are moments when you look back and resilience and a bit of luck is all it takes sometimes.”
The semi-finals will be played on the weekend of Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October.
Aberdeen will discover their opponents when the draw is made following the tie with St Johnstone and Celtic at McDiarmid Park tonight.
McInnes said: “We will deal with the semi final when it comes round and with whoever we get.
“In extra time there wasn’t a lot happening as it was two tired teams still trying to win the game.
“We tried to be as positive with our substitutions as we could and we ended up with Niall McGinn, Gary Mackay-Steven, Bruce Anderson and Stevie May at the death in the last 10 minutes trying to get something.
“But also with the intention of having as many good penalty kick takers still on the pitch as well if it went the full distance.
“Hibs don’t often not score at Easter Road, I can’t remember the last time they didn’t.
“When you play good teams it is all about getting the balance right between attacking and defending.
“We are delighted we have managed to find a way to win the game and come through.
“It is another clean sheet for us against good opposition.”