Boss Derek McInnes has challenged Aberdeen to hit Rangers with an attacking edge despite the absence of his two main strikers.
McInnes is set to field a rookie attack with rising star Bruce Anderson and new teenage loan signing Ryan Edmondson the only available options.
Last season’s leading scorer Sam Cosgrove is out for up to 10 weeks with a knee injury and Curtis Main is sidelined for today’s Premiership opener against Gers with a thigh strain.
McInnes moved quickly to bolster his attack by signing Edmondson, 19, from newly-promoted Premier League side Leeds United on a short-term loan until January.
England Under-19 cap Edmondson goes straight into the squad to face Gers. He was a prolific scorer for Leeds U23s but has yet to start a senior game.
Anderson, 21, has started just three times for the Reds, netting three goals.
McInnes said: “We need to impose ourselves on the game against Rangers as we would do anyway as the home team.
“We have to try to limit what is a very good attacking threat to the bare minimum and carry that threat ourselves to get off to a good start.
“We are clearly short of numbers and options at centre-forward, but Bruce will be ready to go against Rangers.
“The season starts against Rangers and we need to have that fire in the belly, edge and purpose to be at our best.
“Rangers have good players but so have we.
“The last couple of games we’ve played Rangers we’ve picked up a point apiece both in the game at Ibrox and at Pittodrie.
“We had to play particularly well at Ibrox to get a point and we produced a 60-minute performance at Pittodrie to come back from 2-0 down to get something from the game (2-2 draw).
“We want all three points this time and to do that will have to play well for 90 minutes.”
Anderson was the only fit striker at the club. The 21-year-old netted an injury-time equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw in the opening game of the season against Rangers in 2018.
McInnes secured Edmondson on the eve of the Premiership opener following an injury to Cosgrove in the 1-1 friendly draw with Hibs last weekend.
Cosgrove, 23, caught his studs in the grass and suffered a fractured cartilage that will rule him out for eight to 10 weeks but will not require surgery.
He will be non-weight bearing and on crutches for two weeks to let the fractured cartilage heal.
After that the striker, who netted 23 goals last season and recently turned down a £2.7 million move to French side Guingamp, will be re-imaged.
Aberdeen have been unable to sign players this summer due to projected losses of £10m as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. That has been reduced to £3.8m following wage cuts, deferrals, season ticket sales and a cash injection of £2m from club investors.
Yet the freeze on new signings remains. The capture of Jonny Hayes was only sanctioned because the winger offered to defer his wages for a year.
McInnes thanked the Pittodrie board for making possible the emergency move for a striker despite financial restrictions.
He said: “With the injuries to Sam and Curtis we clearly would have been short of two of our key players so I must thank the board for their co-operation in getting Ryan here, during what is a financially tough period for the club.”
Edmondson has made two first-team appearances for Leeds since joining the club in 2017 from York City and has been a regular for the Under-23s over the past two seasons.
McInnes said: “I’ve no doubt Ryan will have a positive impact during his time with us.
“I’m delighted Ryan is here.
“His eagerness and willingness to come to Aberdeen is really encouraging.
“He is a player we’ve known about for a while and always felt he had the correct attributes to add to our squad.”
Today will mark the first competitive match in Scotland since football went into shutdown on March 13 due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
It will be behind closed doors and McInnes accepts the absence of the Red Army is a major loss – but urged his players to bring the same intensity as if the stadium was packed.
He said: “A crowd can certainly aid and support bringing that type of intensity a player needs to play with.
“Crowds not being there will be a constant reminder to the players that intensity is going to have to come from within.
“That individual professionalism and realising three points are at stake.
“Players also have to recognise who they play for, who they represent and that with or without a crowd the intention is to go out and win the game.
“To have that competitive side that our supporters expect.
“This is a fixture that thrives on the atmosphere.
“It can boil over at times, but that comes from the atmosphere on the sides and that generates the intensity in the game.
“We as players and staff have to make sure we still treat the game in the way supporters expect of us.
“It is our jobs to remind them about our responsibilities and the importance of getting off to a good start and the importance of the season ahead.
“No player can play anywhere near their best without that real competitive edge to their game. Getting that competitive edge comes in different ways.”