There was little respite for teenager Lewis Ferguson over the summer as he bust a gut to ensure the new season exceeds his breakthrough debut campaign.
The 19-year-old allowed himself some down time in the post season before returning to hard graft in his pursuit of excellence.
Ferguson was short-listed for the PFA Scotland and Scottish Football Writers’ Young Player of the year awards for his first campaign at Pittodrie.
The Scotland Under-21 international also scooped the Evening Express Player of the Year award in recognition of an outstanding first season for the club.
However, as he returns to Fota Island in Cork, the scene of his Dons debut exactly a year ago, there has been no let-up for Ferguson.
Complacency is not in the midfielder’s lexicon as he aims to improve in the quest to become a top-class star.
Ferguson said: “There is so much more for me to work on as no one is perfect.
“I know what I have to work on – pace, power, quick feet, agility.
“Those are the things you must have to become a top player.
“There are so many things you need to be a success in football and I will continue to work on them as I am growing and developing.”
After a season where the teen started every game he was available for, 42 in total, Ferguson admitted he was feeling fatigued in the post-split games.
He allowed himself the rare luxury of shutting down completely for one week during the close season.
Just one week off in an entire year before Ferguson was back training in preparation for pre-season and the build-up to the Europa League first qualifying round qualifier against RoPS Rovaniemi on Thursday July 11.
Dedicated, the teen even trained while in Mexico on holiday.
He said: “I always take a week just to shut down.
“Although it is not like I didn’t do anything in that time as I was always up and about and active.
“I went away with my girlfriend for 10 days but did stuff in the gym.
“You switch off mentally which is important but physically you can only switch off for a week.
“Then you ease yourself back into it with the gym work and a bit of running.
“The sport scientist at the club sends us a programme to follow and it puts you in good stead for coming back in.
“You need that rest as your body needs to shut down.
“It is good to recover the body as there were so many games last season and that does take it out of you.
“You do start to feel the effects of that and in the last few weeks of the season my whole body was tired.
“But then you get that break, recover and do everything the sport scientist sends you.
“That is what he is there for to help us recover and prepare for the new season and I am sure everyone will be fit and ready in Cork.”
Returning to Cork holds significance for Ferguson as it was here, at the Fota Island resort, that he made his Dons debut almost a year ago to the day.
Having made just 14 first-team appearances for Hamilton before his move to Pittodrie, the teen was seen as one for the future.
He was not for hanging around and made an immediate impact in the training sessions at Cork.
Such was his initial impression Ferguson was handed a start ahead of the two big midfield summer signings in the 1-0 friendly defeat of Cobh Ramblers.
The teen was given the nod ahead of Chris Forrester, a £200,000 capture from Peterborough, and Republic of Ireland international Stephen Gleeson.
Ferguson would retain his starting slot for the rest of the season.
Not only did Cork represent his Dons debut, it was also the first time he had been in a first-team dressing room having stuck with the U20s at his previous club.
He said: “When I first came to Aberdeen I was 18 and didn’t know what I was going into as I had come from Hamilton. But every single person at Aberdeen made it so easy for me to come into.
“Although I was playing in the first team at Hamilton I was still in the U20s changing room.
“That never changed because I had been there for four years.
“It was all my good pals in that U20 changing room and when I first started playing first-team football I just stayed in that changing room. I didn’t see the point in moving up as I was just playing football and enjoying myself.
“I am dead laid back about everything, it is just the way I am.
“I don’t really over-think things.”
Fota Island offers the opportunity for six new signings to integrate into the Dons squad.
Ryan Hedges (Barnsley), Curtis Main (Motherwell), Ash Taylor (Northampton), Jon Gallagher (Atlanta United) and Greg Leigh (NAC Breda) were all set to be put through their paces on the Irish south coast.
Craig Bryson (Derby County) is recovering from an ankle injury sustained late last season.
Having undergone a medical prior to signing a pre-contract, Dons boss Derek McInnes is confident the 32-year-old midfielder will be fit in time to face RoPS.