Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes admits changing shape this season has hindered attacker Niall McGinn.
However, he hopes the Northern Ireland international can still play a key role in the bid for third.
The 33-year-old set up the goal in the 1-0 defeat of Kilmarnock to end a club-record six-game scoring drought.
McInnes believes McGinn’s set-play delivery is a potent weapon – and aims to utilise it in a bid to overtake third-placed Hibernian.
Aberdeen face Celtic at Parkhead on Saturday, with 43% of the goals conceded by the struggling Hoops this season coming from deadball deliveries.
McInnes said: “Niall has always been a big contributor to us with goals and assists.
“He has been hugely influential in our team.
“Niall produced a brilliant delivery for the goal against Kilmarnock which he has done time and time again for us over the years.
“We need more assists and goals and thankfully Niall came up with the goods.
“At set-play deliveries, nine times out of 10 Niall is normally right on the money.
“We have missed that at times this year. The change in shape this season hasn’t always worked in Niall’s favour.
“Wing-back doesn’t ideally suit him.”
McGinn’s contract expires at the end of the campaign and the attacker recently said he is determined to use the remaining games to earn a new deal.
Although he started against Kilmarnock, it was only his seventh start of the season.
First signed by former boss Craig Brown in 2012, McGinn has broken into the club’s all-time top 20 list for appearances.
McInnes went with a 3-5-2 formation in the victory over Kilmarnock to end a six-game run without a win.
He tasked teenager midfielder Dean Campbell with a role designed to help free up McGinn as an attacking threat on the flank.
When Killie boss Tommy Wright switched to a back five at half-time, the formation change forced McGinn into more of a wing-back role before he was replaced by Matty Kennedy in the 70th minute.
McInnes said: “Although we went with a back three against Kilmarnock we tried to get Dean Campbell to play a wee bit more left-sided to free up Niall to be the wing player we know he can be.
“Niall made some good actions and some good runs in the first half. He has the quality to put the ball in the right area and his delivery gave Callum Hendry every chance to get his goal.
“Kilmarnock changed to a back five in the second half and Niall became more of a wing back.
“Due to the directness of that Niall had to do a lot of his work in his own half, so it wasn’t perfect for him.
“But in that first half Niall became that influential player he can be because we got the balance right of looking after the ball at the top end of the pitch and winning it in the middle.
“Niall came off maybe because Matty Kennedy suits that wing-back role a bit more.”
Aberdeen trail third-placed Hibs by four points, but the Easter Road side have a game in hand.
While McGinn’s set-piece delivery brought a first goal after 574 minutes, McInnes was also pleased with Aberdeen’s defending from dead balls.
He said: “We had to deal with the physicality of Kilmarnock.
“At set plays we were essentially a man down all the time in terms of inches. But we stood up to that which pleased me.
“That is 17 clean sheets we have had now, which is a brilliant reflection on all the team.
“We could also have scored more against Kilmarnock.
“However, the most important thing was that the players went home after the match with reward for their hard work and the three points.”
⚽️ Should Aberdeen fans be expecting a win over Celtic on Saturday after the Hoops' 1-0 loss to Ross County?
— EveningExpress Sport (@ee_sport) February 24, 2021