Hampden bound Aberdeen suffered a demoralising defeat ahead of the BetFred Cup final as they crashed 3-0 to Motherwell.
The Dons suffered the worst possible preparation for the final showdown with Celtic next Sunday as they were over-ran by a ‘Well side that were crushed 7-1 by Rangers in their last outing.
Aberdeen ultimately engineered their own down-fall when they gifted the Steelmen the opener midway through the first half.
It was a disastrous goal to give away. That it came directly from an Aberdeen corner kick will be particularly galling for boss Derek McInnes and the 1,198 strong travelling Red Army.
Winger Niall McGinn collected a short corner, back tracked and then sent an inexplicable blind pass upfield that released Motherwell’s Danny Johnson one on one with Shay Logan.
He punished the shocking play from the Reds by scoring.
Five minutes later ‘Johnson headed home to make it 2-0, then David Turnbull made it 3-0 after the break.
Aberdeen made one enforced change to the side that defeated Hibs 1-0 at Pittodrie in the final game before the recent international break.
Centre-back Mikey Devlin was ruled out with a foot injury sustained whilst training with the Scotland squad.
Dons boss Derek McInnes confirmed the 25-year-old has an ‘outside chance’ of being fit for the BetFred Cup final next Sunday.
Experienced defender Andy Considine came in for Devlin.
Aberdeen created the first opportunity in the third minute when winger Gary Mackay-Steven skipped a challenge at the edge of the box before sliding a pass to Stevie May.
The striker unleashed a powerful low drive from 20 yards that keeper Mark Gillespie blocked at his near post.
Aberdeen threatened again in the 24th minute when on loan Derby County left-back Max Lowe found Shinnie with a superb cut back from the left flank.
The Dons skipper had broken into the penalty area unchecked from a deep run but sliced his shot across goal and wide of the far post from 15 yards.
That miss came back to haunt Aberdeen.
Aberdeen were controlling the tempo and possession but inexplicably pressed the self destruct button and within a five minute period conceded twice.
First Motherwell scored direct from an Aberdeen corner kick in a complete shocker for the Dons.
A Dons corner found Niall McGinn who tracked back and then inexplicably turned and played a blind pass from deep within the Motherwell half that sent Danny JOHNSON one on one with Shay Logan.
Right-back Logan tracked the Steelman for 20 yards and ushered him outside but Johnson then cut inside and curled a superb shot beyond Joe Lewis from the edge of the penalty area in the 25th minute.
It was an absolute shocker for the Reds.
Five minutes later Aberdeen were two behind as they failed to deal with a corner kick whipped towards the near post that was deflected up and JOHNSON punished the indecision to head home.
As the first half ground down Max Lowe unleashed a powerful volley from the edge of the box but keeper Gillespie got down quickly to parry.
Dons boss McInnes made a change at half-time in a attempt to get back into the game with Sam Cosgrove replacing on loan Manchester United striker James Wilson.
In the 53rd minute Lewis Ferguson fired in a 25 yard free kick beyond the defensive wall but it was straight at keeper Gillespie who easily saved.
Yet it was Motherwell who netted next to go 3-0 up when an attempted clearance from Andy Considine cannoned off Curtis Main and fell at the feet of David TURNBULL who drilled low beyond Lewis from 15 yards.
Aberdeen were now three goals down to a side that were humiliated 7-1 by Rangers in their last game. It was disastrous preparation for the BetFred Cup final.
A repeat of this performance and Aberdeen’s four year wait to add to the 2014 League Cup secured under McInnes will continue beyond next weekend.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, McKenna, Wilson, McGinn, Mackay-Steven, May, Ferguson, Lowe.
Subs: Cosgrove (for Wilson 46), Wright (for May 63), Anderson for (McGinn 75)
Subs not used: Cerny, Gleeson, Ball, McLennan
MOTHERWELL: Gillespie, Tait, Aldred, Hartley, Campbell, Main, Grimshaw, Bigirimana, Mbulu, Johnson, Turnbull.
Subs: Rodriguez Gorrin (for Turnbull 75), Bowman (for Johnson 85), Sammon (for Main 85)
Subs not used: Ferguson, Frear, Donnelly, Livingsstone.
Referee: John Beaton