Pittodrie boss Derek McInnes today warned Aberdeen will continue to battle against the superior financial power of Celtic and Rangers.
The Glasgow two are operating with a far superior budget in multiples of what McInnes can utilise – yet Aberdeen remain in the Premiership hunt with both.
Rangers and Celtic have both spent in excess of £10 million this season in a bid to secure glory.
Following his arrival at Ibrox last summer Rangers boss Steven Gerrard splashed out more than £10m in a bid to overtake the Dons as Celtic’s main rivals.
During the January transfer window Gerrard also secured Jermain Defoe (Bournemouth) and Steven Davis (Southampton) from the English top flight in big-money loan deals.
However, Aberdeen can tonight leapfrog Rangers into second spot in the Premiership if they defeat Gerrard’s side at Pittodrie.
McInnes said: “History dictates Rangers and Celtic will normally spend more money, but that is the challenge for us.
“By and large the vast differences are clear. So it pleases me no end that despite all the huge advantages of the Old Firm we can still be in and around them and try to be relevant and competitive.
“It shows good work can be done despite those disadvantages.
“It pleases me we are still in and around Rangers, although we are a little bit further away from Celtic.
“Hopefully we can keep doing right a lot of things that we want from our club and keep challenging.
“There is always a belief going into any match, especially at Pittodrie, and we will be aiming to win the match.”
Aberdeen’s bid to move up to second will be bolstered by the availability of inspirational keeper Joe Lewis tonight.
Lewis was taken off injured in the 2-1 win at Hibs on Saturday having sustained a gash above his left eye when colliding with a post trying to save a free-kick.
Leading scorer Sam Cosgrove, who came off at Easter Road with a back spasm, will also be given a late fitness test.
McInnes is hopeful Cosgrove, who has netted 10 goals in the last 10 games, will be available.
Tonight will also see the return of centre-back Mikey Devlin from a 10-week absence due to a foot tendon injury.
McInnes said: “Sam has improved and did a bit of work yesterday.
“It wasn’t full training but Sam will hopefully be available for the Rangers game.
“We will see how he is today and he hasn’t been ruled out.
“As it stands Sam is more likely to be ruled in.
“Joe is fine as expected and will be okay for the game, which is obviously very important to us, as well as Tomas (Cerny, substitute keeper) did midweek.
“The medical staff are happy and Joe is happy to be available for the Rangers game.
“Mikey Devlin will be involved. “He has only fully trained two days, which isn’t ideal. But because of the lack of defensive cover he will be on the bench.
“Ideally we would not need to put Mikey on to be fair to him.
“However, Mikey is itching to go. The intention was always to get a full week’s training into him so he could be available for Queen of the South (Scottish Cup tie on Sunday).
“We changed that slightly due to the injuries defensively and he will now come on to the bench.”
Rangers’ previous visit to Pittodrie was a 1-1 draw in the opening Premiership game of the season when Bruce Anderson, now on loan at Dunfermline, came off the bench to score a late equaliser for Aberdeen.
In the press conference in the immediate aftermath of that draw, Rangers boss Gerrard insisted his side were a “class above” Aberdeen.
McInnes, with two wins and a draw against Gerrard, insists those comments have no bearing on today’s showdown.
Asked if Gerrard’s comment had grated with the players or himself, McInnes said: “Whatever other managers say after the game – we were just more relieved to get the point.
“I was just relieved we got something from the game because we never played well on the day.
“I said after the game there were reasons we weren’t at our best. It was a frustrating performance from our point of view, but what was clear was the never-say-die attitude from the team to make sure we got something from the game.
“Despite not having played anywhere near what we can.
“We put such a lot into the game in Burnley on the Thursday night and then there was the travelling back.
“I didn’t think the energy levels were there. We are seeing it often enough following and managing Aberdeen, when the intensity and fitness levels aren’t able to be at their best then sometimes the performance suffers.
“That was clearly the case that day. We knew it was a long season ahead and we knew we had the experience of doing well previously.
“The intention at the start of the season before that game, and after that game, was to show we are a good team again.”
Winger Connor McLennan is ruled out tonight with a knee complaint. He is expected to be fit to be in contention to face Queens on Sunday.