Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis says the Dons “need to address” their first-half no-show at Tynecastle ahead of Sunday’s Betfred Cup semi-final with Rangers.
Despite an improved showing after the break, the Dons fell 2-1 to league leaders Hearts and remain seventh in the Premiership table – 10 points adrift of the Jambos.
With Hampden looming, Lewis – who made a stunning penalty save from Steven Naismith as a rejuvenated Aberdeen chased a late equaliser – knows Derek McInnes’ men need to bring their second half attitude to Hampden.
The Englishman said: “We have to address the first half, and absolutely not replicate that at all.
“We need to look at what we did out there, because it was like a different team, with a different attitude completely (in the second half).
“We need to take that attitude into the game on Sunday.”
Much has been made in recent days of Aberdeen having to hand back 5,500 tickets for the Rangers clash, struggling to sell their allocation despite arguing vociferously and publicly for a 50-50 split at the neutral venue.
Lewis doesn’t think more fans in blue than red in the national stadium will keep the Dons fans quiet.
He said: “Our fans will make plenty of noise, so I’ve no worry about what numbers we take down there.
“Our fans will match them, no matter the numbers (of Rangers fans) who are down there.”
On Saturday, a fast start from Craig Levein’s Hearts, backed by an enthusiastic home support, seemed to catch a lethargic Aberdeen unawares.
After an extended period of pummelling down both flanks, Arnaud Djoum sent a glancing header across goal and inside Lewis’ back post after Callumn Morrison picked him out.
The Jambos went in at half-time two goals to the good, but the second was controversial.
Lewis Ferguson fell with man-on-fire Steven Naismith in the box as they moved towards a cross. As he fell the ball struck the Dons youngster’s hand.
It was far from intentional, yet referee Kevin Clancy pointed to the spot and Naismith slammed the penalty down the middle past Lewis.
After the break, the Reds showed grit to get back into the game, winning a penalty through substitute Niall McGinn, which Gary Mackay-Steven scored.
Lewis saved the second Naismith spot-kick – awarded after Shay Logan hauled Sean Clare over – magnificently to his left as the Reds pressed, in vain, for a point.
Lewis, who thought Levein’s team were too inclined to go down at high balls and “didn’t know how” Clancy could award the penalty for handball, said: “We weren’t good enough in the first half, that’s for sure.
“It was probably the correct scoreline at half-time, maybe not in terms of created chances, but certainly in terms of the tempo and being on the front foot.
“We weren’t matching what they did.
“The second half was a completely different game for us.
“We played far better and were by far the better team, but when you go 2-0 down it’s always an uphill battle.”
He added: “Lots was said at half-time. Everyone was nowhere near it in the first half.
“They pressed us, they showed more energy than us.
“In the second half we just showed more composure in being able to pass through that press.
“Scott Wright came on and got in some great little areas, allowing us to find him with some passes and that allowed us to break through their front-line and get at the back four.
“We created a lot of opportunities.
“It’s difficult, when you’ve got a team that’s got a high press to play round it, but we needed to be a bit braver with the ball.
“I thought we were probably the better team in the second half.”
Of the latest in a long list of remarkable saves, Lewis said: “You just have a gut feeling. He (Naismith) went down the middle the first time and I thought he was going to go to my right.
“I thought he’d maybe go bit higher to my left side, but like taking a penalty, if you dive with a bit of conviction you give yourself a chance.”