Aberdeen face Hearts at Pittodrie on Saturday looking to build the gap between themselves and the early-season table-toppers.
In the opening games of the season, including a 2-1 win over the Dons at Tynecastle, Craig Levein’s Jambos were dreaming of lifting the Premiership trophy.
An injury crisis has brought a downturn in form. However, there is no doubt Hearts remain a more dynamic outfit than the, to put it politely, “very physical” Hearts side at this point in 2015.
Robbie Neilson’s men set their stall out early that day, with Miguel Pallardo scything down Peter Pawlett on 27 minutes before also hacking Jonny Hayes.
Hayes had a long-range shot saved soon after as the Reds sought the opener, although Sam Nicholson did hit the bar for the visitors just after the break.
On 62 minutes, Osman Sow smashed Don Graeme Shinnie with an elbow as the strong-arm tactics of Neilson’s men continued.
Despite their rough play, Hearts could have scored through Juanma Delgado and Callum Paterson, with both seeing efforts scrambled away from the Aberdeen goal with half an hour left.
The Dons were gifted the deadlock-breaker with three minutes to go, as the Jambos’ Jordan McGhee produced a hand-ball as rash as his team’s tackling, in the visitors’ area under no pressure after Kenny McLean sent a cross in.
This allowed Adam Rooney to slam home the winner from the spot.
ABERDEEN …………………….. 1
HEARTS …………………………. 0