Boss Derek McInnes believes the odds are stacked against Scottish teams in Europe – but he also believes the Dons can overcome them.
The Europa League group stages are the target for McInnes and Aberdeen must negotiate four rounds and eight games to get there.
For perspective, the club’s Gothenburg Greats needed five rounds and 10 games to reach the European Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1983.
In 2007 the Dons had just one round to progress through, against Dnipro of Ukraine, to reach the UEFA Cup group stages.
Now the nation’s UEFA co-efficient is so low Scottish teams face a precarious and extended route to secure the multi-million cash pot of the groups.
Aberdeen are set for game four towards that group target as they ready to face FC Chikhura Sachkhere in the second qualifying round second leg at Pittodrie on Thursday.
The teams drew 1-1 in Georgia and reward for the winner of the tie is a clash with HNK Rijeka of Croatia in the next round.
McInnes said: “It wasn’t too long ago one or two wins would get you into the group stages.
“Group stage qualification has become more of a challenge for clubs like Aberdeen from Scotland.
“It is weighted against teams like ourselves.
“I am not saying it is not achievable, but it is a challenge. We need to make sure we do all we can to get into group stages.”
Aberdeen were seeded in the first and second round, although they were still drawn against two teams deep into their own domestic campaigns.
After just a month of pre-season training, the Dons despatched Finland’s RoPS Rovaniemi 4-2 on aggregate – a team 15 games into their league season.
Chikhura have played 21 games in the Georgian top-flight this term.
So even when seeded, the route in Europe is not without problems.
It became all the more tough when the third qualifying round draw was made at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland last Monday.
Should Aberdeen see off the Georgians to reach the third qualifying round for a fifth season in six under McInnes reward, their is a clash with Rijeka.
Aberdeen memorably defeated them 3-0 in Croatia four years ago en route to reaching the third round. However, the Croatians will pose a tough test, should the Dons progress.
Aberdeen avoided drawing Dutch side PSV Eindhoven and Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt, last season’s beaten Europa League semi-finalists.
McInnes said: “We were in the seeded team list for this round (second qualifying).
“However, as you go through the rounds the likelihood is you are going to come up against a couple of teams who will be seeded and up against it.
“It is cup football, so we would like to think we could give ourselves the chance to do that.”
The increasingly early entry of Scottish teams to European action also adds to the difficulty faced when trying to reach the group stages.
Aberdeen had just three pre-season friendlies before facing RoPS Rovaniemi.
During a hectic summer transfer window, McInnes overhauled his squad with the addition of eight new signings.
There is little time for those players to gel into the squad and the systems played before the competitive action begins.
Likewise that match sharpness and fitness cannot be recreated by friendly action. It only comes with competitive games, something their two opponents so far have had plenty of.
McInnes admits the time frame he has to deal with ensures his squad cannot be fully firing for the early Euro ties.
He said: “We were not going to be at 100% in the early stage of the season against RoPS, both in terms of fitness or familiarity.
“However, having got through that first qualifying round we were better prepared again for having had those two games.”
The situation for Scottish clubs could become tougher with UEFA set to launch a third European tournament in 2021.
The introduction of that new tournament, the UEL2, could potentially see Scottish teams frozen out of the Europa League.
Scotland’s Premiership champions will still go into the Champions League qualifiers, but the rest of our Euro hopefuls could face the third-tier tournament.
But that is two years down the line and all McInnes’ focus is on the here and now, and facing the Georgians at Pittodrie on Thursday.
He hopes it is the next step towards qualifying for the group stages for the first time under his management.
McInnes said: “We have fallen just short in the past and you can talk about missed opportunities.
“But hopefully we can find a level of form and performance in the early stage of the season that will give us a chance to get the groups.
“Playing to a more or less a full house can help us over the line on Thursday and the crowd can pay dividends for us.”