ABERDEEN boss Derek McInnes admits he gambled with his team selection by dropping players for the 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone.
McInnes dropped Niall McGinn, Funso Ojo and Shay Logan to the bench and the gaffer accepts it backfired.
New signing Ronald Hernandez was given a debut and Jon Gallagher and Ryan Hedges were drafted into the starting line-up.
McInnes accepts players were given a chance but did not make the most of it as the Red struggles continued.
The Dons were booed off the pitch at full-time as their goal drought extended to four games.
Aberdeen have taken just three points from the last possible 15 and face a huge Scottish Cup tie against Kilmarnock at Pittodrie on Saturday.
McInnes said: “I gambled a wee bit putting Hernandez in and maybe he needs more time to adjust.
“I gambled with leaving Ojo on the bench as there was a wee bit of tightness in his hamstring after training on Tuesday. He was okay to be on the bench but we resisted the opportunity to start him with Saturday in mind.
“I am not saying the cup game on Saturday took priority over this. However we just felt again with McGinn we felt three games in a week we wouldn’t get the best out of him.
“We gave others opportunities and you have to say they didn’t take it. As a consequence it was a tough night.”
Aberdeen have not scored a goal in open play since the 2-1 defeat of Livingston on Boxing Day.
A disastrous start to 2020 has yielded just one goal in five games, in a 1-0 Scottish Cup defeat of League One part-timers Dumbarton.
McInnes called for the Reds to rediscover their bravery and confidence in possession for Saturday’s all or nothing Scottish Cup tie.
He said: “We need as a team to show more and show a bit more courage. To show a bit more personality to deal with demand and we will be fine.
“We could do with a positive home result and hopefully Saturday brings that.
“We haven’t lost ground (on third placed Motherwell, who lost 4-0 to Celtic) but we certainly lost any confidence and positives we gained from a very good performance at Ibrox.
“I was expecting with the changes to go and build on that but unfortunately we haven’t.
“We need to go again. We need to stick together, work hard, pick the right team for the weekend and get through a cup tie.
“The players have got go dig deep and we have to show belief in them.”
Aberdeen were booed off the pitch by frustrated supporters at full-time.
Following the 0-0 draw at St Mirren prior to the stalemate at Ibrox the supporters also vented their frustrations.
McInnes has called for unity as he is confident the Reds will rediscover their form in front of goal.
He said: “I know the natural reaction for supporters is to be frustrated and I totally get that.
“I’m frustrated myself watching it as I see some of my players capable of more not performing at their best. It is natural when your team don’t win.
“We’ve had two sore ones in a row now at home after having such a strong record and it’s why that frustration has built.
“The majority of fans see us at home and expect us to win games like this. What we do need to do is all stick together.
“We need to make sure we knuckle down, stick together and get through the tie.
“Whatever way we win the game on Saturday to just try to get a bit of confidence back to playing at home again.”
Centre-back Ash Taylor limped off with a calf injury after 20 minutes to be replaced by Mikey Devlin.
McInnes confirmed Taylor is likely to miss the Scottish Cup tie on Saturday but does not expect him to be a long term absentee.
He said: “Ash felt it a wee bit towards the end at Ibrox. He trained on Tuesday and was fine but I think it is the way he landed.
“I don’t think Ash Taylor has torn his calf. If he misses Saturday I don’t think he’ll miss too many to be honest”