Captain Joe Lewis today challenged Aberdeen to lay down a European marker by defeating rivals Motherwell tomorrow.
The Steelmen hold the Premiership’s third spot, which brings automatic Europa League qualification for next season.
Victory over ‘Well at Pittodrie tomorrow would push Aberdeen into third – where Lewis aims to finish the campaign.
Last season the Dons faced a nervous sweat on a sixth straight Euro qualification after finishing fourth and had to wait on Celtic winning the Scottish Cup.
This time Lewis wants European action secured automatically by finishing third and realises overcoming Motherwell is pivotal.
Lewis said: “Motherwell is a huge game as they have been very consistent and have been winning game after game.
“They are a strong side but it is a match we are certainly looking to win. The last time we played Motherwell we won 3-0 and scored three brilliant goals.
“That was one of our best performances along with our 3-0 win over Kilmarnock. We will need to something close to that level to get the job done again.
“It was away from home against difficult opposition and we did really well with a lot of players playing out of position.
“We will be looking to replicate that, but we know Motherwell will be better than they were that day.”
Aberdeen returned from the Premiership winter shutdown with a 1-0 Scottish Cup fourth round defeat of League One Dumbarton at Pittodrie.
In the aftermath of that narrow victory over the part-timers, Dons boss Derek McInnes confirmed he aims to sign a player with a creative spark in the January transfer window. He has already made an attempt to sign St Johnstone winger Matty Kennedy this month to bring creativity.
Kennedy had agreed a pre- contract for the summer, but the Dons want him in now.
If a deal to secure Kennedy this month cannot be thrashed out McInnes will move on to other signing targets.
However, Lewis reckons in signing Dylan McGeouch from Sunderland, they have already landed a player who can turn games with his skill.
Lewis said: “Dylan is a fantastic signing for us. He is very good on the ball, positive and energetic and is a big addition to the squad.
“Hopefully he can affect the way we are playing and can be an integral part going forward.
“We have competition in the squad now and that will be important going forward.”
Aberdeen had 27 shots against Dumbarton but it took a late penalty from Sam Cosgrove to beat the part-timers and prevent an unwanted replay.
Their reward is a home clash against Premiership Kilmarnock on the weekend of February 8.
Lewis said: “The important thing about any cup game is getting through to the next round.
“It was a quiet game for me as the back four did their jobs.
“The two centre-halves completely nullified everything that came into our half.
“Attacking-wise against Dumbarton, on another day we could have had four or five goals.
“As long as it is 0-0 you always run the risk of them popping up with something, but we dealt with everything and there were no dramas.
“After having the break, for the Premiership teams it is important to get back to winning ways – which we did.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the emphatic goal scoring victory we wanted but it was a win. We kept putting the ball in the box and kept trying to do the right things.
“Eventually it wasn’t luck or a fluke but persistence with Sam getting in the right areas.
“The lad brought him down and it was a clear penalty which Sam put away – as he usually does.”
For the Scottish Cup tie the Dons transformed the Merkland Stand into an “active area” for fans who want to stand and sing in support of Aberdeen.
Lewis hopes the “Red Shed” can be incorporated at every home game for next season.
He said: “The initiative from the club with the Red Shed is a brilliant idea.
“The club has to be commended for it and the fans for buying into it.
“Everyone wants a better atmosphere here and hopefully that can be the start of things.
“Certainly against Dumbarton at home when most people would have come here expecting us to win and quite often the fans are waiting for something from the pitch.
“We could hear the supporters and no disrespect to Dumbarton, but in the bigger games they can make a difference.
“A good atmosphere at Pittodrie can be points on the board for us.”