Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass believes progress in the Scottish Cup proves his players have already bought into his vision for the club.
The 44-year-old delivered a victory in his first game in the dugout as the Dons edged out Premiership rivals Livingston 5-3 in a penalty shoot-out at Pittodrie.
Aberdeen twice battled back from behind and also rallied from the shock of losing influential captain and keeper Joe Lewis to injury in the first half.
Glass reckons the Reds would have crashed out of the cup if the squad didn’t already believe in the changes he is trying to bring to the club.
He said: “If that group of players had not bought into everything that is going on or were not playing for the club we would have been out of the cup.
“But they showed energy, trust and belief in the structure.
“I am just so happy for them that they got their rewards.
“At half-time, as a staff, we asked the players not to panic.
“To trust in the structure, trust in what we are trying to do and to trust the movements we have worked on.
“In the second half, you saw a group of players who believed it and had the urgency in themselves to try to implement it.”
Aberdeen twice battled back from behind courtesy of goals by Niall McGinn and on-loan St Gallen striker Florian Kamberi, who netted his first for the club.
The Reds also held their nerve in the penalty shoot-out.
Glass insists he did not discover anything new about the character of the squad as he already knew they had that in the tank.
Their response to setbacks in normal game time and nerve in the spot-kicks only underlined his belief in the squad’s character.
He said: “I don’t know if l learned about their mentality, I think it reinforced that fact.
“I have seen this group of players play a lot and I know how resilient they are.
“You don’t keep as many clean sheets as they have done without being resilient, without being tough and having a mental toughness and having a team spirit. It says a lot for the previous management and also the group of players and staff in there that myself and Allan have come in and joined.”
Aberdeen suffered a blow when keeper Lewis had to be substituted in the first half.
Lewis bravely battled on for more than 10 minutes but could not continue and the Dons conceded within a minute of No 2 Gary Woods coming on.
Glass praised Woods, who is on loan from Oldham until the end of the season.
He said: “Joe was walking around so he seems OK. It is a big loss when you lose a keeper like Joe.
“Gary Woods was excellent in coming in as well, so you have to pay tribute to that.
“Marsh (Gordon Marshall, goalkeeping coach) told me how good a number two we had here and it goes a long way. He really showed his worth there.”
Aberdeen will now face Dundee United in the quarter-final at Pittodrie on Sunday as the bid to win the trophy for the first time since 1990 continues.
Glass said: “We were obviously anxious when you are a goal down in extra-time, but we showed a belief and were driving the game.
“For the bulk of the second half I felt like we were in control.
“There were obviously a couple of scary moments, but we pushed the envelope.”
Aberdeen went 2-1 behind to a contentious penalty when Jay Emmanuel-Thomas went down after a challenge from Dean Campbell and converted the spot kick himself.
Glass said: “To me, everyone can see it is not a penalty kick, but that is as far as I will go on that.”