Aberdeen’s season is effectively over and so too could the Pittodrie careers of some of the players involved in the Scottish Cup quarter final shocker.
This dismal New Firm derby defeat underlined the need for a summer rebuild under new manager Stephen Glass.
Prior to the last eight clash Glass had reiterated that every player, not just those with deals set to expire, had the opportunity to impress him before the inevitable summer squad restructure.
There is no better opportunity to impress than a Scottish Cup tie at home against a side in the bottom six.
That they failed to grab it and were rolled over by United will be a source of huge frustration for Glass.
For Aberdeen to deliver success under Glass next summer a major rebuild is required – and the Pittodrie board must deliver the financial backing for the manager to strengthen.
Glass and assistant Allan Russell are using the remainder of the season to assess the squad. However it is not just skill that will be monitored.
Losing a cup tie with so much at stake will tell them much about the mentality and character of some of the players.
This quarter-final tie also offered the opportunity to prove to the new management regime that players could handle the pressure of must-win matches – and too many failed to do that.
Now all that remains in a season is a fight to finish third.
To say that is hanging tenuously by a thread is an understatement.
Aberdeen have no control on their hopes of third as Hibs are six points ahead with a superior goal difference with only three Premiership matches remaining.
It will take a complete collapse from Hibs for Aberdeen to finish third.
Ultimately, though, do any Aberdeen fans care about the bid to finish third?
Third and fourth both secure entry to the Uefa Conference League so the only difference is a little extra kudos and £250,000 more in prize money.
In a few years no one will remember who finished third. Everyone will remember the 2021 Scottish Cup winners though.
The bid to win the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1990 was what mattered in this season finale.
Winning the Scottish Cup offered the chance to make an immediate statement under Glass and also delivered qualification into the Europa League third qualifying round.
That is just one two-legged tie from the multi-million riches of the groups.
Now hopes of that are gone. That it evaporated so badly underlines major work is needed on this squad.
Aberdeen lacked energy and the exertions of a tough clash with Celtic and extra-time and penalties against Livingston looked to have taken their toll.
The Dons were outplayed and had no answer for the high energy press of Dundee United which exploited gaping holes ripped open in the Reds’ defence.
Aberdeen looked nervous at the back and lacked inspiration going forward.
It was far removed from the impressive performance that had taken them within seconds of defeating Celtic on Wednesday.
They paid the price for a sluggish display and now the Scottish Cup dream is over for another season.