Aberdeen’s two leading strikers Sam Cosgrove and Curtis Main must step up in 2021 to deliver consistent goalscoring form.
The Dons suffered frustration in front of goal in the New Firm derby as numerous crosses into the box, particularly in a dominant first half, were all wasted.
A centre-forward must show predatory instincts in the second half of the campaign to convert those chances.
The failure to convert dominant possession and deliveries into the danger area, particularly in that opening 45 minutes, was the difference between one point and three in the first game of the new year.
Ultimately, if a striker does not hit the goal trail in 2021, that could be the difference between chasing a troubled Celtic for second spot – or not.
Next up for the Dons is a home clash against runaway Premiership leaders Rangers on Sunday, where chances are likely to be at a premium. Any opportunity needs to be ruthlessly exploited.
Cosgrove, last season’s leading scorer on 23 goals, has netted just three times this season – and was named on the bench.
Fellow striker Main also has a goal return of three this season.
Both centre-forwards had the first few months of the campaign written off by injury, but are now back to full fitness.
This was the second 0-0 stalemate in three games. Either Cosgrove or Main, ideally both, have to start turning positive play from the Reds into goals.
It must be a cause of frustration and consternation for boss Derek McInnes that his side are struggling to make possession count, despite fielding a team packed with attacking and creative talent.
At wing-back were Jonny Hayes and Ryan Hedges, with Niall McGinn and Matty Kennedy in support in attack. They delivered the crosses into the box, but there were no takers.
This was a missed opportunity to further slash the gap on the second-placed Hoops, who lost 1-0 to league leaders Rangers in the earlier kick-off. The Dons narrowed it slightly and trail the defending champions by four points, albeit Celtic hold a game in hand.
Despite the New Firm stalemate, Aberdeen have registered their third highest return at the 20-game mark under McInnes’ management. Only in 2014-15 (43 points) and 2015-16 (42 points) have the Reds delivered a better points return.
You have to go back to the 1992-93 season for as strong a start to the season of a Dons side not managed by McInnes.
In the ’92-93 campaign, the Reds won 13 and drew three of the first 20 games – equivalent to 42 points.
Aberdeen are now clear of Hibs in third spot and within touching distance of Celtic, despite their two leading strikers being sidelined by injury and struggling to hit their scoring form upon their return.
If either discover that scoring touch, it could be the catalyst for an even stronger second half of the campaign.
Will Scott Wright’s return get Aberdeen scoring again?
Attacker Scott Wright returned to action as a second-half substitute
following double hernia surgery early last month.
A creator from a central role, Wright’s return will be a major boost for a Dons side that has been lacking a creative spark in recent games.
He had not played since a 2-0 defeat of Hibs on November 6.