Legend Frank McDougall reckons the Dons have proven their big game mentality this season but must take care of lesser games to have any chance of overhauling Rangers into second in the league.
McDougall once celebrated, and mathematically sealed, a second straight league title win by netting a sensational first-half hat-trick in a 3-0 win away to Hearts in 1985.
Aberdeen were set to travel to Tynecastle today, gunning for a victory that would keep the heat on Rangers, eight points ahead with eight matches remaining.
McDougall, 61, has been impressed by the Reds’ mentality in defeating Rangers three times in Glasgow this season, on two occasions knocking them out of cup competition.
For one of the Dons’ greatest ever goal-scorers, the current team are now displaying the same positive mindset that saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s legendary team not just believe they could beat the Old Firm in Glasgow, but know they would do it.
McDougall reckons the missing piece in the jigsaw for the Dons, who have recently dropped points at home to sides battling relegation, is taking care of those so-called lesser teams.
He said: “Aberdeen can handle big games, they have proven that.
“It is in these games against the teams at the other end of the league where they are dropping daft points.
“Aberdeen have been too inconsistent recently. You can’t go and beat Rangers every time you face them in Glasgow then drop points at home to teams like Hamilton and St Mirren.”
Aberdeen will today look to maintain their impressive away form to 10 unbeaten to pile pressure on Rangers, who travel to Celtic tomorrow.
McDougall accepts overhauling the Ibrox club in the league to finish runners-up for a fifth successive season is a tough ask – but not insurmountable considering the Reds’ recent form at Ibrox.
It is likely the Dons will face Rangers away in the post split. McDougall said: “Aberdeen will have absolutely no fear about going to Ibrox.
“They seem to play better against Rangers in Glasgow than they do at Pittodrie.”
McDougall was a vital cog in the Dons team that celebrated a second successive league crown with a win at Tynecastle on May 4 1985.
The title was effectively won with a 1-1 draw against closest rivals Celtic at Pittodrie the previous weekend.
With two games remaining, Celtic could still mathematically lift the title but McDougall rendered any computations irrelevant with a devastating treble inside the first 34 minutes against the Jambos. The defender he was up against was Hearts boss Craig Levein.
He said: “I remember the day very well, it was scorching.
“The third goal,” he laughed, “that was like Messi.
“Craig Levein was alright but after the game I told him to check his bonus. That was towards the end of my best season where I won the Golden Boot.”
Having won the Scottish Premier Division the previous season, Ferguson declared retaining the league crown was his prime target. Following the transfer of Mark McGhee to German giants Hamburg after that title win, McDougall was drafted in as replacement from St Mirren.
He netted 24 goals in his debut season as, like this season, the Reds beat Rangers twice at Ibrox and three times in the campaign.
It was a phenomenal season for the Dons, who broke the record Premier League points tally.
He said: “When we went down to Glasgow we knew we would win the game, simple as that.”
The following season McDougall netted 20 goals to fire Aberdeen to the Scottish Cup and League Cup double.
His career was cruelly cut short when he had to retire due to a persistent back problem. The sense of what could have been in his career lingers with McDougall.
He said: “I was 27 when I had to retire and that was tough. It still hurts to this day. I would have smashed everything if I had kept playing. Joe Harper’s record, everything.”