Boss Derek McInnes today admitted Aberdeen can no longer compete with big-spending Rangers in the Premiership race over a season.
Yet he expects the Reds to at least push the Ibrox club over 90 minutes.
Which is why the 5-0 hammering by the Gers came as such a bitter blow.
In a day where only the heroics of keeper Joe Lewis kept the score-line down, Aberdeen crashed to their heaviest loss under McInnes.
It was Aberdeen’s worst defeat since 2010.
Under McInnes the Reds finished runners-up to Celtic for four seasons from 2015-18 and pipped Rangers to second in 2018.
Due to the multi-million spending of the Glasgow two, McInnes concedes it is again a two-horse race with Rangers and Celtic at the top of the Premiership table.
With eight out sidelined McInnes admits his side were too passive against a Gers who smelt blood – and punished them.
McInnes said: “If Rangers and Celtic are doing their recruitment well and spending their money wisely while having good managers in place they will be the teams who fight it out at the top of the league.
“For teams like ourselves I think it is important that we still feel like we can compete in 90 minutes and compete better than we did today.
“You can see that Rangers are in a good place.
“They have a good manager, have spent enough money this summer and seem to have spent it well on their squad.
“As I said prior to this game, I do think Rangers will be up there challenging Celtic and maybe for a bit longer this season.
“I thought Rangers were very good, but they were allowed to be better and enjoy the game too much for my liking.
“From when they got the first goal you saw the gulf in quality at times and the experience in the team.
“We looked very young at times and lacked that experience and personality that every team needs if you are going to try and get a positive result at Ibrox.”
Aberdeen had eight players ruled out by injury or illness for the trip to Ibrox. Just three days earlier the Reds had crashed out on penalties to Hearts in the League Cup quarter-final.
He said: “It was a good time for Rangers to play us and a bad time for us to play Rangers after the amount of injuries we have got and the extra time the other night.
“It was a long afternoon and the response after losing the first goal never really came.
“We were a bit vulnerable in terms of injuries and probably a bit vulnerable in terms of the 120 minutes against Hearts and the travelling.
“But I would still have liked to have seen a bit more personality in the team and for them to have been a bit less passive and have more aggression.
“We were very young through the midfield.
“We had a difficult afternoon and there is no doubting Rangers were a good bit ahead of us.
“They sniffed blood with us being a bit vulnerable and they certainly took full advantage.”
Aberdeen had seven players ruled out for the game prior to travelling down to Glasgow overnight ahead of the clash.
Midfielders Craig Bryson, Funso Ojo, Scott Wright and Stephen Gleeson were all injured.
Attacker James Wilson was added to those out when suffering a knee injury on Wednesday against Hearts.
Centre-backs Scott McKenna and Ash Taylor were also sidelined with hamstring injuries.
McInnes’ options reduced further when centre-back Andy Considine was ruled out just three hours before kick-off with gastroenteritis.
Considine will be available for Saturday’s match against Hibs.
McInnes said: “Andy had gastroenteritis at the hotel in the morning of the game.
“We were hoping it was just a sickness bug but it developed into a lot worse as the morning went on and he was ruled out.
“The team had been picked and Andy was in it.
“Certainly Andy will be available for the weekend.”