If this is the strongest Aberdeen squad assembled by Derek McInnes, they have to step up and prove it.
A dismal return from three away games in the last week saw the Dons struggle to cope with the loss of key players.
Some of those fringe players who came in as replacements for Aberdeen failed to deliver a compelling argument to retain their starting places when McInnes’ selection problems ease and he has a full squad to pick from once more.
The woeful first-half performance in the Betfred Cup loss at St Mirren lacked aggression and self belief – two absolute fundamentals required for success in a cup competition.
Aberdeen were weakened for that last-16 tie with seven players unavailable.
However, they were not weak by any means.
The Dons started with six full internationals at St Mirren in Andy Considine, Greg Leigh, Niall McGinn, Ryan Hedges, Jonny Hayes and Matty Kennedy. There were also two internationals on the bench – Mikey Devlin and Ronald Hernandez, an £850,000 signing.
Aberdeen also started with Sam Cosgrove up top, who has delivered 20-plus goals for the last two seasons.
Granted Hayes, McGinn, Leigh, Kennedy and Cosgrove are all working their way back from recent injuries.
But there can be no excuse for the meek capitulation in that first half, given the relative strength of squad Aberdeen boss McInnes had at his disposal.
St Mirren should have had a spot in the quarter-finals safely secured by the break.
When Niall McGinn netted an undeserved equaliser, it was a get-out-of-jail card which papered over the cracks of a poor 45 minutes.
Despite a double substitution and formation change from 3-4-2-1 to 4-5-1 at the break, the Dons failed to capitalise on their leveller.
Aberdeen have an immediate opportunity to gain revenge, of a sort, when they face St Mirren again in the Premiership away on Saturday.
A victory would get the Premiership campaign back on track and move the Dons to within a point of crisis-hit Celtic, who are not in action until Sunday.
So, despite the recent slump in form, there is no need to push the panic button because the Premiership campaign remains on track – despite just one point from the last six.
Should the Dons via the league secure European qualification for an eighth straight season it would be an admirable achievement. But is it enough? Supporters, and the players and management, want a trophy to add to the 2014 League Cup.
Losing to St Mirren saw another chance to do this disappear, just a month after losing to Celtic in the delayed 2019-20 Scottish Cup semi.
The absence of the aggression and drive of midfield partnership Lewis Ferguson and Ross McCrorie in recent games due to a Covid-19 outbreak within the Scotland U21 squad was clear.
Frustratingly, the Dons were shorn of two key players through no fault of their own. It has been costly.
Ferguson returns on Saturday and so too should Aberdeen’s bite and edge.
Sad scenes outside Parkhead were a disgrace
There is a sense of entitlement within some Celtic supporters which disregards the ability and desire of other teams.
Here is a newsflash for them – teams can deny Celtic lifting another trophy.
Deal with it – just like every other team in Scotland has had to for the last four seasons while the Hoops have lifted every trophy available.
They face Championship Hearts in the delayed 2019-20 Scottish Cup final later this month for the chance to secure a fourth treble.
Finally, after 35 domestic cup games without loss, Celtic crashed out of the Betfred Cup 2-0 to Ross County at Parkhead.
Celtic have now won only twice in 10 games. The behaviour of a minority of “supporters” in the aftermath of the defeat was a disgrace.
An angry mob gathered outside Parkhead to call for Neil Lennon to be sacked.
Glasgow is under Tier 4 of the Scottish Government’s coronavirus restrictions. This mob cared more about the outcome of a football match than the safety of the region.
They shouted abuse and threw missiles. Players, who had delivered 11 trophies in four seasons, had to be escorted from the stadium in fear of their safety.
There is clearly no credit in the bank for this squad or Lennon, despite unprecedented success in recent seasons. This obsession with 10 in a row has become toxic.