Manager Stephen Glass admits Aberdeen suffered a ‘sore lesson’ as their Euro group stage dream died.
The Dons lost 3-1 on the night (4-1 on aggregate) to Qarabag in the Europa Conference League play-offs.
Azerbaijan outfit Qarabag completely dominated the tie to reach the lucrative play-offs.
Glass wants the Reds to take the lessons learnt into the domestic campaign.
Aberdeen signed Marley Watkins before kick-off and are understood to be lining up a loan move for Newcastle United midfielder Matty Longstaff.
Glass said: “It is a sore lesson, but a real lesson and something our group will get better from.
“If we find ourselves in this situation again hopefully we are better prepared.
“It is not an embarrassment to say Qarabag are a level above us.
“We saw a relentless group.
“The biggest lesson is how to look after the ball against top sides and give their players less opportunity to hurt you.
“We did that too often and top players punish you and that’s what they did.
“We gave the ball away cheaply at times but good teams force you to do that.
“The boys have been really resilient the whole time against Hacken and Breidablik, who were good teams.
“We did well to get to this stage and it was still alive tonight.”
Aberdeen targeting Newcastle midfielder
Aberdeen are understood to be lining up a loan move for Newcastle’s Longstaff, 21, who is also on the radar of Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest and West Brom.
Glass said: “Anyone we add will be coming to make the group stronger.
“We’re looking to add. By the end of the week we should be able to finalise things.”
Just 20 minutes before kick-off Aberdeen confirmed the signing of Welsh international attacker Watkins on a two-year deal.
Watkins had previously been on loan at Pittodrie last season from Bristol City until returning to his parent club in November having suffered a serious injury.
The Dons swooped to secure the 30-year-old free agent.
👋🏼 Welcome back to Pittodrie Marley Watkins.
📝 Ahead of kick off this evening, we are delighted to announce that @MarleyWatkins has returned to The Dons on a two year deal.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) August 26, 2021
Glass said: “I’m delighted Marley has chosen to return to the club.
“In his previous spell at Aberdeen his influence on the team was enormous and we are looking forward to having him back in a red jersey.
“We have beaten off a lot of competition for him and I am sure he will enjoy a great reception upon his return to Pittodrie.”
Use lessons learnt in Premiership campaign
Aberdeen will look to rally from the defeat, which extended a winless run to four games, when hosting Ross County on Sunday.
Glass wants the Reds to show their quality in the Premiership, the way Qarabag did at Pittodrie.
He said: “The players will know what it is like to play against a team of top, top professionals.
“We will look to get to that level and I think we can do to some teams in Scotland what Qarabag did to us.
“We have a better group of players than some other groups in Scotland.
“That is the aim from now until the end of the season, to continue improving.
“We have been great in the league so far and we will get the opportunity to bounce back on Sunday.”
Gap in quality was evident at Pittodrie
There was an evident gap in quality between Qarabag and Aberdeen.
The Azerbaijan outfit have now qualified for the group stages of European competition for an eighth successive season.
Glass said: “They have quality at the top end and they leave two or three up there and trust the group to defend.
“They have the quality to do it.
“It’s tactically different to what we’re used to, but quality players are difficult to play against.
“There are six high up the pitch and when they look after the ball the way they do it’s not going to be easy. It’s not an excuse.”
Qarabag manager praises Red Army
Qarabag manager Gurban Gurbanov praised the Red Army.
Gurbanov said: “We are very happy to progress. I would say that the atmosphere in the stadium was astonishing.
“I wish the team, and especially the supporters, a lot of success in the future.
“I wouldn’t call it easy and I’m very happy our players played until the last seconds of the game.
“The pitch was great and we were really happy to play in front of these fans and my players enjoyed it here.
“We always tried to play forwards to get a better result.”