In a fiery fixture given the added edge of a Hampden semi-final at stake boss Derek McInnes today urged the Dons to keep their cool no matter how heated the tie gets.
Rangers’ previous trip to Pittodrie last month threatened to boil over as Scott McKenna and Alfredo Morelos were both red carded following a flashpoint.
Rangers’ Colombian international Morelos has been sent off in all three games he has played against Aberdeen this season.
McInnes accused his players of lacking aggression in the 2-0 loss to Hamilton and demanded in the aftermath of further dropped points at Pittodrie that his squad deliver more dig against the Gers.
However, he will also demand they display composure and complete concentration against an in-form Rangers side who have netted 14 goals in their previous three games, without conceding.
McInnes said: “The fixture itself lends to it that charged atmosphere. This is a top fixture in this country and there is no love lost between the supporters.
“But once the game starts the players are expected to play the game in a certain way, there is that demand of them.
“There has to be the professional side of it and handling the game. Being smart, composed and calm at the right time.
“We are quite a young team but there is enough experience with players who have played in cup finals, European games and big league-defining games in terms of positions.
“We can harness all that experience we have.
“Although there are some youngsters in the team who are still learning that side of it I have no doubt they will be able to deal with the game.”
The temperament of Morelos is flammable but there is no disputing his quality – the Colombian is on 28 goals this season.
A player who operates on the edge, Morelos has hit seven goals in the last three games. How Morelos performs, and whether he remains on the pitch, will be crucial to Rangers’ hopes.
McInnes said: “Morelos is a good player who is capable of being the difference in a tight game. He is someone who has had a fantastic season and one of many good players Rangers have.
“If we can limit Morelos’ contribution it goes a long way to getting the result we want.”
The form of both sides ahead of today’s quarter-final could not be more conflicting.
Aberdeen have suddenly developed a concerning dose of home sickness with just one win in seven games at Pittodrie, a 4-1 defeat of Championship Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup.
At home the Dons have taken just two points from the last possible 15. In back-to-back home games against relegation-battling sides they have taken one point.
McInnes said: “We have played Rangers at different stages this season when they have been in good form.
“With the players they have it is no real surprise they are in good form at the moment.
“They are certainly finding their way to goal showing their attacking threat.
“Rangers have some fantastic players, you cannot deny that.
“And if given space and time to enjoy the game they can hurt you.
“We are well aware of that and of the need for concentration and defending properly.
“The aggression in the game has got to be there and whenever we have beaten Rangers this season there has been good concentration and everyone playing their part.
“We will need that again.”
Aberdeen hold the upper hand in the head-to-heads with Rangers so far this season.
A goal from Lewis Ferguson dumped the Ibrox club 1-0 in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden in October.
Then Scott McKenna netted in a 1-0 triumph at Ibrox in the first of Aberdeen’s club record-equalling seven straight away wins.
Steven Gerrard’s Rangers, rebuilt with a £15 million-plus investment this season, secured their first victory when winning 4-2 at Pittodrie last month.
It is understood Rangers’ over-exuberant celebrations in the away dressing room following that game caused some consternation with the Dons.
McInnes said: “Any team can celebrate any time they want when they win. That is not important.”
Aberdeen were booed off the pitch at full-time by frustrated sections of the Red Army following the dismal loss to Hamilton.
McInnes understands the frustration at the home form but is confident Aberdeen supporters will be fully behind their side in a game with so much significance to the season.
He has called for them to be patient as Rangers could have extended spells of possession.
He said: “No supporters like seeing a team coming up and having loads of the ball.
“Rangers are a team who are possession-based and like to have enough of the ball.
“It is important that in those moments the supporters stay with the team.
“We have enough about us as a team that we know our capabilities and can go and cause them problems.
“We have scored in every game against them this season. And we are confident we have the players who can do that again.
“Obviously we want to score one more goal than them to get into a semi-final.
“One might be enough – who knows?
“It will be a tough task to stop this Rangers team from scoring. But the intention for us is to go out and win and win the way we think is right.
“The supporters have a huge part to play in that.
“Outwith when visiting teams bring a support it can be quite subdued but in this type of game our supporters are all in.
“These are the games that mean so much to them and we are well aware of that.
“I have no doubt the supporters will be all in and right behind the team.
“Hopefully the combination of both players’ efforts and supporters’ efforts can get the job done.”