Aberdeen’s confidence has not been dented by a four-game winless run ahead of a season-defining Scottish Cup replay, according to influential skipper Graeme Shinnie.
The Reds will tonight go head to head in the quarter-final with an in-form Kilmarnock side who have won nine of their last 10 matches at Rugby Park.
In contrast, the Reds were held 0-0 at relegation-threatened Partick at the weekend and have taken just one point from the last nine in the Premiership.
Shinnie insists the Dons’ self-belief remains intact.
He said: “With the calibre of player we have, the confidence is always there.
“The boys know what they can do so I don’t think confidence is an issue.
“When you have that calibre of squad and players such as Stevie May, Niall McGinn and Adam Rooney, you know goals are going to come eventually.
“And hopefully they come in the replay at Rugby Park.
“Kilmarnock are going well but it is a game we know if we can hit our full potential we can get through.
“We are focused on trying to get our performance up to that potential to get back to playing the way we were.”
When the Reds meet up in pre-season training, ending the campaign with a Scottish Cup final appearance is one of the over-riding aspirations.
Last year they lost the final to Celtic as the wait continues to lift the trophy for the first time since 1990.
Shinnie hoisted the Scottish Cup aloft as captain of Inverness Caley Thistle, in his final game before moving to Pittodrie in 2015. He wants to get his hands on the trophy again.
He said: “Hampden is what we want as a squad, a management team and the club and for the fans.
“We all want that trip and we all want that chance to get to the final.
“It is massive for us and what we play for every year.
“We have a big ask at Kilmarnock but it is one we know we can win.”
The 26-year-old Aberdonian skippered the Highlanders to a 2-1 final win over Falkirk.
Securing a winner’s medal has made him hungry for a repeat this season.
He said: “There is no better feeling than winning silverware in football and it can give you your best days that you will never forget.
“That makes you hungry to have more of it and hopefully that can give us an opportunity.
“We had a street parade in Inverness with an open-top bus and the fans turned out in numbers for it.
“David Raven played guitar and these are days that you never forget and days you want more and more.”
Kilmarnock have lost just twice in 20 games, both to Aberdeen.
Steve Clarke’s side last suffered defeat at Rugby Park in November last year – in losing 3-1 to the Dons.
In the cut and thrust of an all-or-nothing cup tie, Shinnie warned past form is ultimately meaningless.
He said: “We have a good record down there but it means nothing in a cup game.
“Kilmarnock are in good form but we know if we play to our full potential we can go down there and win.
“We need to look to do that.”
Aberdeen’s recent dip in form has been criticised by some supporters as the Reds have lost valuable ground in the race for second spot in the Premiership.
Shinnie today called for the fans to stick with the Reds as their support can be pivotal in a replay with so much at stake.
On fans’ frustration, he said: “When you go four games without a win you can understand it.
“But we need them to stick with us as much as they can.
“They can drive us on so much.
“When you are on the pitch and the fans back you as they do that does drive you on.
“Hibs and Celtic were two tough games that could have gone either way.
“Coming off the back of them we had Kilmarnock, which was a tough game.
“Being 1-0 up we probably should have gone on to win the game which was frustrating.
“At Partick we played well in the first half and created numerous chances.
“We should have been one up, if not two.
“As much as we know it is frustrating for them (the supporters), we need them to help us out as well.”
Aberdeen have scored just once in that four-game slump, with Shinnie netting that solitary goal in the 1-1 quarter-final draw with Kilmarnock.
He insists he is culpable for not adding to that tally after missing a clear opportunity against Partick.
He said: “The goals have dried up a wee bit which needs to change.
“We need to be more ruthless in front of goal and find that killer touch.
“We had a frustrating day on Saturday at Partick where we created some chances and should have taken them.
“Myself included, as I had a great chance and should be scoring that.
“That changes games.
“However, defensively I thought we were good so that is a positive we can take.
“It was frustrating at Partick more than disappointing but we move on to the Scottish Cup and will look to turn things round.”
In recent months Kilmarnock have defeated both Celtic and Rangers on the plastic surface at Rugby Park.
Shinnie has no problem with the Fifa 2 Star 3G surface and insists it could benefit the Reds’ passing game following recent matches on natural grass pitches at Pittodrie and Firhill, damaged by the winter snap.
He said: “I think it might actually help at this time of year. Pittodrie is not in great nick and the Partick pitch was all right – the rain helped.
“However, it was not overly great so the plastic pitch will be fine.
“It will be the chance to get the ball down more and pass it more than we maybe have done recently at Pittodrie.
“That has been frustrating as it does hamper us a wee bit. We want to get the ball down and pass it. However, it is the same for every team that plays in the game. So we cannot use it as an excuse.
“You just have to adapt.”
Aberdeen had three players named in Alex McLeish’s Scotland squad for this month’s friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary.
Kenny McLean, Scott McKenna and Ryan Christie were in the 27-man line-up.
Shinnie did not make the cut for new Scotland manager McLeish’s first squad.
Versatile midfielder and left-back Shinnie was, however, selected for the previous squad, under interim coach Malky Mackay.
He did not earn a debut senior cap in the 1-0 friendly loss to Holland at Pittodrie.
On potential Scotland selection, he said: “You naturally want to be there but you don’t expect it and never would.
“If it comes, so be it.”