The psychological advantage of finally beating the Old Firm in Glasgow will prove vital in the Betfred Cup final, according to Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.
For so long the Dons’ Achilles heel had been the inability to overcome Celtic and Rangers away from Pittodrie.
No more. Aberdeen have dumped both Celtic and Rangers in Glasgow in the last six months in crucial must-win games.
First the Reds inflicted a first ever domestic defeat at Parkhead for Brendan Rodgers in his two-year tenure as Celtic boss when winning 1-0 in the final Premiership game of last season.
It was a must-win game for the Dons to secure runners-up spot and they delivered to end a 39-game league losing streak at the stadium dating back to 2004.
Then the Reds defeated Rangers 1-0 at Hampden in the Betfred Cup semi-final.
Now McInnes’ side will go for a treble when they face holders Celtic in the Betfred Cup final as they aim to follow up the 2014 League Cup-winning heroics.
Aberdeen will face Rodgers’ double treble winners at the national stadium expecting, not just hoping, to win.
McInnes said: “Winning those games (in Glasgow) are important psychologically.
“The club’s history is clear that to win trophies or be successful in you normally have to win in Glasgow.
“While there is huge difference in resources between us and Celtic, and also between us and Rangers – it is good to know we can still go and win these types of games for the club in Glasgow.
“You have to do that at some point if you are going to bring a trophy back here to Pittodrie.
“Winning at Celtic Park in the final game of last season gave us experience and confidence.
“The offset of that was that we went on to the win over Rangers in the semi-final.
“We went down to Hampden expecting to win the semi against Rangers.
“We went down confident we could get the job done.”
That overcoming the Old Firm on their own patch is fundamental to achieving success was reflected by club legend Sir Alex Ferguson and fuelled the halcyon years under him in the 80s.
In his autobiography, Managing My Life, Sir Alex said: “As far as Rangers and Celtic were concerned, I meant to be the man from the Monopolies Commission, putting a stop to their comfortable sharing of the spoils.”
Scottish football was a duopoly when Sir Alex arrived at Pittodrie in 1978, with honours carved up between Celtic and Rangers.
Now it has become so skewed the game has become a monopoly with Celtic winning the double treble. Aberdeen lost out in both domestic finals and came second to the Hoops in the league in the 2016-17 campaign.
McInnes’ side are all that stand between Celtic securing a seventh straight domestic honour.
He said: “We have had experiences in the cup that are shots of confidence and adrenaline.
“For us to go to a good team like Hibs and not concede in the quarter-finals to go through, then go to Hampden and not concede a goal to book a place in the final – it is all experience for the players and gives that confidence and assurance.”
McInnes will lead Aberdeen out in a national final for the fourth time.
His first secured silverware after a penalty shoot-out win over Inverness Caley Thistle, although the next two were lost to Celtic.
“We are used to the feeling of getting to a final,” said McInnes.
“When you have a final to look forward to everything cranks up a bit and there is a lot of energy about the club. I am delighted for so many people, in particular my players and how hard they work.
“Getting to the final is reward for their efforts.
“I know how hard everyone works here and how demanding we are of the players to keep improving.
“Now we have a cup final to look forward to.”
Aberdeen’s hopes in the semi-final were written off in many quarters but they triumphed courtesy of a second-half Lewis Ferguson header.
McInnes admits it was a tense clash where the Reds did not produce their normal footballing levels – but the result was all that mattered.
He said: “I have played in enough semi-finals and managed in semi-finals.
“You are never sure what you are going to get.
“Semi-finals traditionally, no matter what competition, be it World Cups, Champions League or any cup competition, they are traditionally poor affairs.
“They are tense, fraught with anxiety as people do not want to make mistakes.
“What was important was that we had the belief, wherewithal and confidence to deal with the game.
“While we wanted to play better one goal was enough and it was all about getting through.
“Semi-finals are all about winning or losing and we managed to get the job done.
“The players gave me everything and that along with their unity got us to the final.
“And we will go into it looking to bring another trophy back.”