Derek McInnes is confident his seven-man summer signing spree has made Aberdeen more competitive.
A busy transfer window for the Dons concluded with the deadline-day arrival of defender Greg Leigh and keeper Gary Woods on short-term deals.
Due to the multi-million-pound financial hit of the Covid-19 crisis, McInnes initially believed strengthening his squad in the window would be unlikely.
However, the Pittodrie board subsequently sanctioned seven signings, with the Dons also securing Jonny Hayes, Ross McCrorie and Tommie Hoban, along with loan deals for Marley Watkins (Bristol City) and Ryan Edmondson (Leeds United).
McInnes said: “We freshened up the squad with a few players in the window, which gives added competition.
“That is important for any manager and squad to have. It means that when you are in the team you have to bring a level of performance that keeps you in because you know there are good players waiting.
“I don’t think we had that competitiveness last season, especially with long-term injuries.”
Aberdeen were active in the transfer window, despite chairman Dave Cormack predicting catastrophic losses of £10m due to the pandemic.
That was subsequently reduced by more than 50% to £3.8m by measures such as wage cuts, deferrals, season-ticket sales and fresh investment.
The financial black hole is set to increase further due to the continued absence of supporters. Due to the cash crisis, the Dons had to be creative with signings.
Hayes deferred his wages for a year when signing and McCrorie arrived on a season-long loan from Rangers. McCrorie will pen a three-year permanent Dons deal next summer in a £350,000 move.
Defender Hoban was signed until January with the likelihood Scott McKenna, who was sold to Nottingham Forest for £3m, would move on this summer.
McInnes said: “We needed to go with the squad we had.
“Then Jonny came in and everyone knows the circumstances that allowed us to get him and the fact it has not impacted on this year’s footballing budget.
“Ross is a long-term investment to safeguard a young Scottish talent as an Aberdeen player.
“Tommie Hoban on a short-term deal always made a lot of sense in light of his capabilities.”
McInnes admits the Dons would not have been so active if not for a striker injury crisis.
Sam Cosgrove was ruled out long-term with a fractured cartilage and Curtis Main was also out following knee surgery.
In reaction, McInnes signed Edmondson on loan from Leeds until January only for the teen to suffer an ankle injury.
Aberdeen then moved to land Watkins on a short-term loan from Bristol City.
McInnes said: “We had to react to the situation and was grateful to the board’s assistance with that. If we didn’t have those injuries to contend with, we probably wouldn’t have been as active.”