Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass has revealed he opted not to chase the game against Celtic because there was so little time in training to work on that gameplan.
The former Atlanta United 2 boss and assistant Allan Russell had only been training with the squad for a week before facing the Hoops.
Aberdeen came agonisingly close to defeating Celtic for the first time since May 2018 – only to suffer the blow of conceding an equaliser in injury time.
Having initially gone on the attack, the Dons went 1-0 up through Lewis Ferguson.
However, in the second half they surrendered a lot of possession and opted to hit, very effectively, on the counter-attack.
Glass insists that game-plan is not negative when defending a lead against a possession-based team – and is utilised by many of the world’s top sides.
Aberdeen had only 28.7% possession in the 90 minutes with Celtic having 71.3% – yet the Hoops rarely troubled keeper Gary Woods.
And Glass was seconds from delivering a vital win in the race to finish third.
He said: “If we go chasing it high up, we have had hardly any time on the grass to discipline them in the forward areas.
“It was easier to do it the way we did.
“They found themselves in a low block and a medium block half the time.
“The discipline in that performance meant that Woodsy didn’t have a whole lot do to.
“He had a great save in the first half, but other than that I don’t think he got his hands dirty too much.
“We have tried to organise them and put them in a certain structure.
“Against Celtic we had to sit back more than we would like, which was really apparent.
“When a team like that comes they are controlling the ball and you are a goal up – it happens and the best teams in the world do it.
“It is not something that is a negative if you are ready to counter and ready to break in the right areas.
“We showed that against Celtic.”
In the first half, the Dons had 34.9% possession with Celtic having 65.1%.
That dropped to 22.9% for Aberdeen after the break, with the Hoops having the ball for 77.1% of the half.
Throughout the 90 minutes, 38.5% of the play was in Aberdeen’s defensive third, with only 16.6% in Celtic’s defensive third and 44.9% in midfield.
Celtic’s domination of possession was shown with the Hoops making 662 passes to the Dons 263.
Glass praised the focus and discipline of his team to carry out his tactics.
Asked about Aberdeen’s concentration levels, he said: “They were really good and we knew they would have to be.
“Celtic move the ball really well and John (Kennedy, interim manager) has got them playing in a good style.
“They have good players in there as well so it was always going to be difficult.
“However, they stuck to their task and broke at speed at times.
“We had real opportunities to score a second as well, which would have killed it off.
“The second gives you that little bit extra so that you are not hanging on in the last minute and if they nick one, they nick one.
“When you don’t get it there is always that danger but I did think the boys had done enough to see it out.”
The positive start and attacking intent from the Dons was underlined by nine crosses into the Celtic penalty area from open play in the first half, with the Hoops having 10.
Aberdeen delivered just one cross from open play into Celtic’s box in the second 45 minutes, with the Hoops racking up a further 11.
The Reds opted to hit on the break and caused real problems with that set-up.
Ferguson hit the post when clean through on goal and Jonny Hayes also broke upfield on the counter-attack.
Hayes was clean in on goal but was fouled by Callum McGregor who grabbed the left-back around the chest and bundled him to the ground.
It should have been a red card to McGregor and a free-kick 20 yards out for the Dons.
Referee Willie Collum gave neither and waved play on – oblivious to Hayes’ calls that he was fouled.
After 10 days in quarantine having flown in from the United States, Glass has only been working with the squad at Cormack Park for a few days.
However, he believes the way the Reds carried out his game plan underlines they are already integrating his plans.
He said: “We have been really clear with the messaging with the players to try to get them that understanding of how we want them to work.
“They are taking it on board. That is testament to the staff at the club and the players that are here.”