Aberdeen looked rusty against Stenhousemuir and that should not happen after a week-long training camp in Dubai.
The whole idea of training in the warm weather in the United Arab Emirates was to return recharged and full of energy and creativity.
That was not the case in the 1-1 Scottish Cup draw with the side sitting bottom of League One.
There was not enough energy or directness from Aberdeen in the fourth round tie, particularly in the first half.
Being held by Stenhousemuir is a poor result and the Dons players will be desperate to put that right in the replay at Ochilview.
Playing on Stenny’s artificial pitch on a Tuesday night is a scenario I did not see happening prior to kick off.
All the signs were there that Aberdeen would progress as their form had been so strong before the winter break.
Aberdeen also had that week in the sun to recharge and also completed loan deals for Derby’s Max Lowe and Birmingham’s Greg Stewart in the build up.
I don’t think the history of that infamous 2-0 Scottish Cup defeat to Stenhousemuir in 1995 comes into the equation.
When Stenhousemuir knocked the Dons out of the cup 24 years ago at Ochilview that was a real shock that was felt throughout Scottish football.
If it were to happen again next Tuesday it would be an even bigger shock due to Aberdeen’s form in recent years.
I don’t think that shock will happen as Aberdeen are strong enough to get a result in the replay.
The key to progressing to the fifth round is rediscovering that form and intensity shown throughout December.
It was a level of performance that was rewarded with Derek McInnes securing the Manager of the Month award and Sam Cosgrove lifting the Player award.
Aberdeen are only three points off the top of the Premiership, which is impressive form.
They have to rediscover that in the replay.
Before they travel to Ochilview the Reds must also ensure there is no hangover from this cup draw in the upcoming league matches against Hamilton on Wednesday and Kilmarnock on Saturday.
With the top of the Premiership so tight it is vital Derek McInnes’ side continue to rack up the wins on league duty to stay right in the mix.
All the signs were positive ahead of the cup tie against Stenny as the Dons fielded a very strong side, particularly in the attacking areas.
However, it didn’t work out as anticipated as Aberdeen were poor in the first half. In these type of cup games you have to make it difficult for opponents.
Aberdeen needed to make a statement that this is Pittodrie and if you are coming to our ground you will be put under pressure and will have to play at a very high level to get anything.
That was not done in the first 45 minutes as there was not enough energy, creativity or directness.
Aberdeen were better in the second half but it was still not enough.
When Stenhousemuir equalized Aberdeen looked too open.
To be fair to Stenhousemuir, the League One side played some good football.
They were also well organised and played with a calmness.
When you see Stenhousemuir’s recent results coming in where they were whacked 4-1 by Arbroath and 5-1 by Raith Rovers in their previous two games you assume they must be a poor side.
However, they looked alright at Pittodrie and displayed a belief that they could pass the ball.
Stenhousemuir produced a performance that belied the position they occupy rooted at the bottom of League One.
Now they will have home advantage on an artificial surface in the replay. It will be a battle and the Dons will have to both dig deep and produce quality to progress.