Derek McInnes is demanding six points from Aberdeen’s two home games before the new year – starting today against Hamilton Accies.
The fourth-placed Dons go into the Pittodrie clash aiming to bounce back immediately from their 3-0 loss at Easter Road last weekend, which left them two points behind Motherwell.
Having gone toe-to-toe with the Hibees until half-time, the Reds wilted and conceded goals from Martin Boyle (two) and Florian Kamberi after the break.
McInnes, who has also called for the rest of his players to help top scorer Sam Cosgrove, said: “If you lose a game the response has got to be there, regardless of when you lose a game.
“The nature of the result last week was disappointing. It didn’t feel like a 3-0 game, but it was a 3-0 scoreline – you can’t shy away from that.
“There was a lot we did right, but in both boxes we could clearly have done better.
“Last week we created enough chances to score goals.
“Sam’s had three or four chances – normally he’d take two of them. But if he’s not scoring it’s up to others to make sure we still have a threat there.
“You want your team to respond to any disappointing result and the next opportunity that we have is Hamilton at home.
“With two home games before the turn of the year, the intention is to get all six points.”
The next home game after Hamilton is Livingston on Boxing Day.
Before the Hibs loss, the Dons had gone six games unbeaten, including a 2-2 Pittodrie draw with Rangers.
This was despite continued injury problems, which have seen key central midfielders Craig Bryson (ankle) and Funso Ojo (hamstring) unavailable, among other absentees.
While these problems haven’t yet dried up and a sickness bug could see others miss out today, Ojo – signed for £125,000 in the summer – is likely to return to the squad.
McInnes added: “We’ve had a wee bit of a bug going about the club this week.
“It’s affected not only first-team players, but younger players, so there’s a wee bit of a concern over two or three.
“It is a concern, to be honest.
“In terms of injuries, Niall McGinn, who missed last week and the week before, trained yesterday. He’s been with the physios for most of the week and did a bit more work on Thursday. We’re hoping he’s available.
“Scott McKenna has had a bit of a hamstring issue going on this week – a bit of tightness. He trained yesterday and is available.
“Ojo is back training after a long time out, which is brilliant for us.
“The aim was to get him back training and he’s trained particularly well.
“Just having him on the training pitch is a real boost.
“Craig Bryson is going to take a bit longer. He’s not ready for this one, but we’re hoping – with a bit more time and care from the physios – that he can be available before the turn of the year in a couple of the games.
“Then there’s Ethan Ross, who has a thigh strain, and Scott Wright (long-term knee injury).”
McInnes hopes Ojo’s return can bring an element of control to his midfield, with every goal scored by Hibs coming after the Dons lost possession.
The manager said: “I do think what we’ve lacked on the park for the majority of the season, if not all of it, is experience and the ability to control and influence in and out of possession.
“Both Ojo and Bryson clearly have that ability and we’ve been without that.
“Being without my two marquee signings (has been difficult).
“It took a lot of work to get Bryson here and Ojo was the only player we spent money on.
“Both were key in the summer and, having them back, able to perform at their best, we’ll see that key influence in the second half of the season.
“The team requires it. We’re too quiet at times and last week the game was far too open for my liking.”
McInnes sees parallels at Hamilton with his own injury frustrations, with the Dons winning the reverse fixture – which came after the 4-0 Pittodrie loss to Celtic – 1-0.
Hamilton are second bottom of the Premiership table and without a win since September.
McInnes added: “There’s a pattern there with Hamilton. Even Brian Rice’s team, it’s different players week in, week out, and different players from Hamilton squads over the years.
“But running through the club there’s a real competitiveness and point to prove by staying in the league.
“Every year, they’re sticking two fingers up to the critics who say they’re getting relegated. They have enough moments in the season and big results which allow them to maintain their status and I see a lot of those traits in Brian’s team.
“He’s got a lot of players to choose from when they’re all fit. He’s had a lot of injuries to contend with this season as well, and when they’re back he’ll be looking for an upturn in results.
“Their capabilities are clear to see. I’ve seen them at their best and when they’re not at their best. They’re difficult for any team to come up against, including ourselves.”