Aberdeen piled the pressure on boss Derek McInnes after losing 2-0 to Hibs at Easter Road in the Premiership.
The result leaves the Dons five points below the third-placed Hibees in the table.
Before the game, McInnes faced questions about his future after close to eight years at Pittodrie.
His lacklustre team had just two wins in nine, no goals in three and were playing one of their chief rivals this season.
If things weren’t precarious enough before kick-off, the Dons lost key source of creativity Ryan Hedges to a pectoral injury against the Lions, an ailment which has ended his season.
Deadline-day signing Florian Kamberi is also yet to arrive for his loan from Switzerland’s St Gallen, as he is still waiting for a work permit.
Centre-back Ash Taylor recovered from a thigh problem picked up against Livi to start, with Matty Kennedy’s inclusion sending fellow wideman Connor McLennan to the bench.
In Hedges’ place was Dylan McGeouch, who has been largely unavailable this season due to injury and was making a first appearance since October 25.
Aberdeen started with a back three of Taylor, Andy Considine and Tommie Hoban, with Kennedy and Greg Leigh wide. The central midfield pairing was McGeouch and Ross McCrorie, with Lewis Ferguson and Jonny Hayes supporting striker Fraser Hornby.
Hibs lined up in a slightly different 3-4-1-2.
Greg Leigh simultaneously played a woeful back pass and looked like he seriously damaged a hamstring with just five minutes on the clock. Chris Cadden, who was running with Leigh, saw his low effort smothered by Joe Lewis, but Leigh – who missed a large part of the early season with a similar problem – had run his race.
He was replaced by McLennan, who went to right-back, while Kennedy moved across to the left.
Despite their early issue, the Dons settled and Ross McCrorie forced a low save from Ofir Marciano from the edge of the area on 11 minutes.
In response, Hibs’ Jamie Murphy sent a dangerous low centre across the Reds’ goal from the right soon after.
On 14 minutes, McGeouch’s well-judged long ball lobbed Darren McGregor and looked to have found Hornby in behind, only for McGregor to recover and clear at the crucial moment.
Five minutes later, McLennan could only manage an air shot with his weaker left foot when trying to connect with an intelligent front-post Hornby flick near the penalty spot.
But the Dons were showing signs of attacking threat.
However, on 25 minutes, there came another good close-range Lewis stop, when Martin Boyle wriggled away from Taylor at the right of the Aberdeen area.
And the Dons were soon behind, with referee Willie Collum handing Hibs a spot-kick for a Ferguson foul on Murphy on the extreme left of the box.
Boyle sent his penalty low and left, giving Lewis little chance of saving, despite the keeper guessing correctly.
Aberdeen have been criticised for a lack of ideas in their build-up play and the final third in recent weeks and this was apparent once more after Hibs’ opener.
On 38 minutes, McCrorie shouted for a pen of his own after being muscled out, but it didn’t look like a spot-kick.
It then should have been 2-0, when Murphy slid the ball through to Boyle, who looked to be offside, however, the flag stayed down. Fortunately, Lewis was there to produce yet another stop.
Aberdeen had another penalty shout turned down soon after the break after Hornby flicked the ball up and it appeared to hit a Hibs defender’s hand. Collum wasn’t interested.
Otherwise, the start of the second half was poor fare, with Hibs shading the Dons in the settling back down stakes.
On 59 minutes, McLennan was sub-subbed for Callum Hendry, despite not appearing to be injured, while Niall McGinn replaced McGeouch as McInnes tried to get something out of his team.
There was a glimmer of the old Hayes on 66 minutes, when he darted forward into space from right-back before shooting over on his left foot.
However, the next moment of the game saw Hibs make it 2-0, ending the contest and potentially McInnes’ time as Dons gaffer, Boyle getting in behind and this time managing to get his shot past Lewis.
On 80 minutes, Hornby almost got his first Reds goal – and a lifeline for his team – when his looping header from Kennedy’s cross beat Marciano. Unfortunately it came back off the bar and away from danger.
It remains to be see whether Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack will make a decision after today’s result, but the Dons are not only in a battle for third, they are in one for fourth with fifth-placed Livingston, who, mercifully for the Granite City men, lost their unbeaten run at St Johnstone.