Aberdeen defender Andy Considine says the Dons need to treat today’s Scottish Cup clash with Stenhousemuir like it’s the final.
This, he thinks, is the appoach which has taken Derek McInnes’ team to three national showpieces in three seasons.
The Reds live in hope this year’s Scottish Cup could be their first trophy since the 2014 League Cup.
Since then, they have lost three finals to Celtic – both cup climaxes in 2016/17 and, most recently, an agonising 1-0 loss in the Betfred Cup final at Hampden in December.
Aberdeen’s Scottish Cup campaign begins in the fourth round when Stenny visit Pittodrie – the first game after the Premiership’s winter shutdown.
Of this first hurdle, Considine said: “It’s going to be one of those games you have to treat as if it’s Rangers or Celtic.
“If you don’t go into the game with the right mentality (you can lose).
“We have no right to walk over any team.
“You’ve got to have your head in the right place.
“Regardless of the opposition, you treat it like a cup final.
“I think that’s why we’ve managed to get to so many finals recently.
“If you can install that mentality into everyone we’ll go far.”
Considine, 31, has picked up just one trophy since his Dons debut in 2004.
Having come so close during McInnes’ managerial reign, Considine feels the desperation to secure more silverware more than ever.
He said: “Of course (the hunger is still there). I feel we’ve come close over the past four or five years. But to go one step further would be fantastic.
“If you look at both cup competitions, we’ve gone all the way and been very close.
“Hopefully this can be our year.
“Our squad this season, with all the young boys coming through as well, is looking really strong.
“If we can keep everyone in the squad fit through the second half of the season and have a good run, there’s every chance we could go all the way.”
After an indifferent start, the mood at Aberdeen has taken a positive turn this term – with the Reds right in the mix for the Premiership title, three points behind leaders Celtic.
They rattled off six wins in eight league matches in December.
Contrast this with the feeling at Ochilview – Stenny are struggling in League One and have picked up a solitary point in their last five.
However, Considine, who played at right-sided centre-back throughout the last month of 2018, has suffered enough cup disappointments against lower league opponents – Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup semis, East Fife in the League Cup and more – to know the pitfalls.
A lifelong Dons fans, he can’t quite remember the 1995 loss to the Warriors at Ochilview, which came after a victory over Rangers.
Considine said: “I seriously think it’ll be a tough game. We’ve been doing our work in training towards the game today, but we know what’s coming.
“In cup football, regardless of what’s happening in the league, it means nothing.
“We need to treat it as if it’s Celtic or Rangers, or Hibs or Hearts, or any of the teams in our league. We need to have the right mentality and deal with it.”
McInnes’ men should be raring to go. After a week off, they got their legs going again in the heat of Dubai for the third successive year.
Considine says he could see how tired his team-mates were when they closed out their nine-game December with a 2-1 win over Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
He said: “I think when it came to the Livingston game, which was a massive game for us, you could see after the game the boys were just exhausted.
“But it was a great performance from the boys and I think, not just us but every other team after all the games, we were more than happy for the break.
“It’s a great thing they’ve introduced over the last few years, because December’s always busy, but for us it was just chaotic. But it’s put us back to where we should be (in the league).
“Now we’re just looking forward to kicking on in the second half of the season.”