Aberdeen produced one of their best performances of the season but still lost out 2-1 to league leaders Celtic at Pittodrie.
It was a third successive home defeat for Aberdeen but Derek McInnes’ side were unfortunate not to take at least a point from a game where they more than matched the defending Premiership champions.
Boss McInnes will hope the performance, albeit not the result, can be a catalyst to kick-start the campaign especially with the Scottish Cup replay against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park looming on Wednesday.
Celtic grabbed an early lead through Callum McGregor before Aberdeen hit back with a superb volley from Ash Taylor.
The Hoops secured the point with a late winner from Kristoffer Ajer.
Two changes were made to the Aberdeen starting line-up that defeated Hamilton 3-1 away on Tuesday.
Having suffered a groin strain whilst training on Friday Mikey Devlin dropped out.
Fellow centre-back Ash Taylor came through a fitness test at training on the eve of the game and went into the starting XI having missed the previous two matches with a calf inury.
Shay Logan returned and went into a three man back-line with midfielder Dylan McGeouch dropping to the bench.
Celtic grabbed the lead in the 10th minute when Leigh Griffiths dispossessed Scott McKenna before passing into the box to Odsonne Edouard who rolled the ball to James Forrest.
Keeper Joe Lewis blocked Forrest’s right foot drive but Callum McGREGOR pounded on the loose ball to fire home from with his right foot from 12 yards.
It was a bitter blow for Aberdeen who had began well.
The Reds completely collapsed when losing four goals in the first half in losing 4-0 to Celtic in the last clash at Pittodrie in October.
It was vital they show composure in the aftermath of this early goal.
In the 22nd minute Aberdeen threatened when a powerful tackle from Ash Taylor sent the ball spinning upfield.
Striker Curtis Main collected the ball and fired a 25 yard shot but it rose high above keeper Fraser Forster’s goal.
Celtic were hit by an injury blow in the 24th minute when defender Greg Taylor was for
Aberdeen equalized in the 26th minute with a superb finish from TAYLOR.
A cross from Connor McLennan on the right eluded the Hoops’ defence and fell to Taylor who chested the ball to kill the momentum, waited for it to drop then smashed a superb half volley beyond Forster.
Aberdeen deserved the equalizer.
In the 39th minute Funso Ojo fired in a 25 yard low drive that keeper Forster moved in the air and Forster batted the ball in front of him.
Niall McGinn raced onto the loose ball and headed into the side netting.
Moments later Connor McLennan went down in the box but referee Andrew Dallas booked him for simulation.
In the 58th minute Main raced in on goal and fired in a 20 yard drive that Forster saved at his near post.
In the 70th minute McGinn delivered a superb cross from deep on the left flank and Main was agonisingly short of connecting in front of goal.
Moments later substitute Jonny Hayes burst in on goal but keeper Lewis raced off his line to charge down his powerful 15 yard drive.
Celtic went ahead in the 81st minute when Forrest attacked the Aberdeen box on the left before rolling a pass to Kristoffer AJER who was left completely unmarked and allowed the time to smash it beyond Lewis from 12 yards.
Ajer then celebrated the goal in front of the Aberdeen supporters in the South Stand. He should have been booked but referee Dallas let it slide.
It was a bitter blow for Aberdeen who had put so much into the game.
It was compounded when midfielder Funso Ojo had to come off injured, replaced by Cosgrove.
It should have been 3-1 when Edouard was guilty of a bad miss when hitting it off Lewis as the keeper was lying helpless on the ground.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Taylor, McKenna, Considine, Ojo, Ferguson, McLennan, McGinn, Kennedy, Main.
Subs: Bryson (for Kennedy 67), Cosgrove (for Ojo 82),
Subs not used: Cerny, Hernandez, Campbell, McGeouch, Anderson.
CELTIC: Forster, Jullien, Taylor, Bitton, Brown, Griffiths, Ntcham, Edouard, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest.
Subs: Hayes (for Taylor 24), Christie (for Griffiths 60), Rogic (for Ntcham 79)
Subs not used: Bain, Issouf Bayo, Elyounoussi, Frimpong.
Referee: Andrew Dallas