ABERDEEN moved three points clear in second spot with a 2-0 win over in form Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
The Reds leap-frogged over inactive Rangers into the Premiership runners-up spot courtesy of goals from Kenny McLean and Shaleum Logan either side of half-time.
Rangers are in action against Hearts at Ibrox on Sunday (12.30pm).
Killie were the Premiership’s in form side having registered six straight league wins in the build up to hosting the Dons.
However the Reds produced a far improved performance from their Hampden horror show in the Scottish Cups semi-final defeat to Motherwell to end a two game losing streak.
Aberdeen are the only team to have defeated Kilmarncok since October and they retained that impressive run against Steve Clarke’s Rugby Park side.
The pressure ramped up on the Dons before kick-off as they dropped a league position down to fourth as Hibs leap-frogged them following their 2-1 win over champions elect Celtic.
Aberdeen made four changes to the side that flopped 3-0 in the Scottish Cup semi-final last weekend.
Returning from suspension were captain Graeme Shinnie, Scotland international Kenny McLean and right-back Shaleum Logan.
All three had been sorely missed at that national stadium.
Defender Mark Reynolds also returned to the starting line up and slotted in at left-back in McInnes’ preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
Andy Considine was ruled out through suspension with on loan Manchester City midfielder Chidi Nwakali missing with an ankle injury sustained in the semi.
Aberdeen’s leading goal scorer Adam Rooney dropped to the bench. Icelandic international centre-back Kari Arnason, who was at fault in all three ‘Well goals in the semi, was also relegated to a substitute role.
Anthony O’Connor retained his starting spot despite a social media outburst in the aftermath of the semi-final defeat where he criticized Aberdeen supporters.
Aberdeen were denied the opener in the first minute when Scott McKenna met a Stevie May free-kick 12 yards out to direct a vicious header goal-ward.
The defender was denied by a superb instinctive save from Killie keeper Leo Fasan.
In the 10th minute McLean fired a powerful long range effort from 30 yards that flew over the bar. Aberdeen were on the front foot and looking dangerous.
Kilmarnock then threatened in the 13th minute as a right footed 20 yard drive from Alan Power was parried by Joe Lewis in the bottom right corner.
Next Greg Stewart did well to burst beyond Greg Taylor on the left flank before cutting inside to create space for a shot but his angled 18 yard drive flew over the bar.
Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke changed his formation after 25 minutes and went with three at the back in a 3-4-3.
Alert defending from McKenna denied striker Kris Boyd a clear shot at goal on the half hour mark. It was a vital block.
Aberdeen made the breakthough in the 38th minute through returning midfielder MCLEAN.
Scotland cap McLean looked up from the right flank as if he was going to cross and then opted to fire a 35 yard drive beyond Fasan. It was a superb drive into the bottom right corner.
He disguised the shot superbly and it outfoxed Fasan who was both slow in reading the situation and slow in going down.
Moments later Logan ran from deep in his own half before firing a 25 yard effort over.
A goal line clearance denied Kilmarnock an equalizer in the 50th minute.
Striker Kris Boyd met a Greg Kiltie corner and his 16 yard volley was cleared off the line by skipper Shinnie.
In the 53rd minute McLean and Killie’s Stephen O’Donnell were both booked for a bust up as the game threatened to boil over.
Aberdeen went two ahead in the 59th minute when O’Connor met a free kick delivered into the box by May.
His powerful 15 yard header was saved by Fason but the ball dropped to Shaleum LOGAN who capitalized to fire home from six yards.
Aberdeen should have made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute when Mackay-Steven played Shinnie into acres of space in the penalty area.
Rather than square the ball across goal with Rooney lurking Shinnie opted to shoot from a tight angle and his effort was saved by Fasan.
In the 81st minute keeper Fasan blocked a low drive from Rooney with his right foot as Aberdeen pushed forward for a third.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, O’Connor, McKenna, Reynolds, Shinnie, Ball, Christie, McLean, Stewart, May.
Subs: Rooney (for Christie 64), Mackay-Steven (for May 71), Arnason (for Stewart 85)
Subs not used: Woodman, Wright, Harvie, Cosgrove.
KILMARNOCK: Fasan, O’Donnell, Broadfoot, S. Boyd, Findlay, Power, Dicker, Taylor, Kiltie, Brophy, K. Boyd.
Subs: Erwin (for S. Boyd 63), Cameron (for Brophy 72), Burke (for Kiltie 84)
Subs not used: MacDonald, Simpson, Wilson, Greer.
Referee: Nick Walsh