Anthony O’Connor says he has “no doubt” the Dons will finish second in the Premiership again this season if they keep performing as they did against Motherwell.
Aberdeen moved into second and three points clear of rivals Rangers with a 2-0 win over the Steelmen at Fir Park on Tuesday night.
The Reds are looking to finish as the main challengers to Celtic for the fourth successive season.
Early in the campaign, it looked as though that may be a big ask.
But they have taken advantage of the Gers taking only a point from their last three games to move into pole position to finish second.
Derek McInnes’ team play Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday in the last fixture before the Premiership split – after which there will be just five league matches left this season.
O’Connor believes Aberdeen will finish second once again if they continue their good form and enjoys proving wrong the doubters, who reckon Rangers will be Celtic’s main challengers.
The 25-year-old said: “Last year with Rangers coming back into the league the talk seemed to be about the Old Firm again.
“Everyone seemed to be talking about who would be pushing Celtic for the title and nobody really mentioned us.
“And I think we finished second comfortably, by nine points.
“That’s in the past now and it’s back to business again, but it seems to have been ‘little old Aberdeen have had their time, Rangers are back’.
“Now that’s not what has happened, with the boys here we are a good team – and we’re showing it.
“With six games to go we’re playing to finish as high as we can.
“Punters and others are all doubting us and talking about Rangers and Celtic.
“But here we are again, Aberdeen in second place.
“And we’ll see who finishes second and we’ll see who is talking at the end of the season.
“I’ve no doubt that if we play like we can, it will be us.”
O’Connor insists there will be no let-up from the Dons as the season moves towards a conclusion.
Aberdeen also have a Scottish Cup semi-final with Motherwell to look forward to at Hampden on Saturday, April 14 (ko 12.15pm).
But for the moment O’Connor is focusing on the league campaign and wants to build on the momentum they have created in recent weeks.
The centre-back, who can also play in midfield, added: “Look, we want to finish as high as we can – it’s not just about the cup for us, even though we are in the semi-final.
“It’s not just about that – we want to finish as high as we can.
“We take pride in finishing as high as we can.
“If we are not going to win the league, then we want to finish second behind Celtic because it looks as though they are going to win the league.
“There is no shame in that because they are a great team and we want to finish as high as we can.
“We are going to keep winning as many games as we can and we are going to treat every game from now until the end of the season like it’s a cup game.
“We can’t let up because as soon as we do there are teams behind us ready to pounce.
“We’ll enjoy the win at Motherwell because it was a great result and now we’ll take this momentum with us.”
O’Connor, who is out of contract in the summer and will decide his future at the end of the season, is keen to make it four Premiership victories in a row on Saturday when they head to the capital to play the Jambos.
However, the Irishman knows it won’t be easy against Craig Levein’s side. The two meetings between the teams this term have both finished 0-0.
O’Connor is targeting more than a point this time around and said: “The games are not getting any easier, they are coming thick and fast and Hearts at Tynecastle is not easy.
“The fans will get behind them and it’s just important for us to keep doing what we’re doing because it’s just another game.
“It won’t be easy for us because we’ve played them twice this season and it’s been two stalemates.
“There haven’t been any goals and there hasn’t been a lot in the games, so we’re looking to go there and put that right.
“Then we want to take that into the cup semi-final next week against Motherwell.”
Reflecting on Tuesday’s victory in Lanarkshire, O’Connor was pleased with the professionalism shown by Aberdeen against a Motherwell side who have beaten them twice this season.
He believes it was important the Reds matched the aggression of the Steelmen in the early stages to then give themselves a platform to play football.
Matching Well physically was something the Dons were keen to do having been out-fought by them in their 3-0 League Cup quarter- final defeat in Lanarkshire last September.
“It was a professional performance, going to Fir Park, we knew it would be difficult,” O’Connor said.
“The conditions were challenging and we were playing a team who are difficult to beat.
“They’ve beaten us twice this season and now we’ve beaten them twice.
“We’re level on games now at two each and I think we needed to show a bit more of our nasty side early on in the game to grow our way into the match.
“I think the football took over once the game settled down and we showed our quality.
“There were two great goals. For the first it was a great delivery (from Kenny McLean) and a great header from Arnie (Kari Arnason).
“For the second, Kenny (McLean) shows his great left foot and sticks it in the bottom corner. We take the confidence now and take it into Saturday.
“We knew what to expect, it was about matching their aggression and matching everything they did, and then the football took over.
“I’m not being smart or anything like that, but if you were to back who was the better football side – you would probably back us.”