Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes thinks his team now have a new “reference point” for their season after fighting to draw 2-2 with Rangers.
The Dons stayed a point above Motherwell in third place in the Premiership, despite a worrying opening half-hour which saw them make several errors and go 2-0 down to goals from Scott Arfield and former skipper Ryan Jack.
Jon Gallagher scored before the break and the re-energised Reds fought tooth and nail to equalise, with Andy Considine smashing home at the back post.
Having already capitulated to a 5-0 loss to the Gers at Ibrox and a 4-0 defeat to Celtic at Pittodrie, McInnes thinks they’ve changed the narrative which has seen their campaign written off after failing to lay a glove on the Glasgow teams so far this term.
McInnes said: “The whole reference point for us has been the two Old Firm games this season.
“We’re four points ahead of last season’s tally and everyone wants to slap us down for the Old Firm games – I get that. But our actual league form is good.
“We’ve had one defeat in eight, that was against Celtic, and the players are doing fine.
“My players are working away fine and we just have to keep to turning out results.
“I needed to see it from my players, that type of resilience.
“My two centre-backs were outstanding in the second half and we stood up to it well.
“It’s good my players are slightly disappointed they only took a point.
“But the fact they rolled their sleeves up and got a point is important.
“I needed to see that, never mind the supporters.”
The continued absence of Craig Bryson and Funso Ojo saw McInnes field Zak Vyner and Greg Leigh in midfield once more, as well as handing a second spell domestic debut to Ash Taylor.
There had been recognition from the Aberdeen camp before the game the Dons needed to show more aggression, having been accused of passivity in the earlier Gers and Celtic meetings.
McInnes thinks his side’s poor start at Pittodrie was a product of desperation to put right the earlier results.
He said: “I’m delighted with the performance after the first half an hour.
“We were murdered in the first 30 minutes as Rangers played as they wanted.
“We spoke the last time about not showing enough passion or aggression or being ready to do battle.
“This time we were too excitable, too rushed in possession and we were probably too pumped up for the game.
“As a consequence we gave the ball away for both goals and at that stage a long night looked ahead as Rangers were bossing it.
“I’ve seen Rangers go on to score three, four or five but it was a great response from my players.
“The only thing we changed tactically was pulling Lewis Ferguson back one place to get on the ball and what it did was allow Jon Gallagher to get on the ball.
“He got his goal and it was a real shot in the arm from then.
“We wanted fire and ice from the players. Fire when we wanted it back and composure when we had it.”
Top scorer Sam Cosgrove missed a back-post header late on which could have won it for the Dons.
McInnes admitted there was a “tinge of disappointment”.
The boss, who takes his side to Easter Road to meet Hibs on Saturday, said: “As good a point as it is coming back there is a tinge of disappointment that Cosgrove didn’t take his chance as that would have been the perfect comeback for us.”