With 20 goals this season, leading scorer Sam Cosgrove is one of the top flight’s lethal finishers but still accepts a chunk of the blame for the 3-0 loss to Celtic.
And Cosgrove insists he and his fellow attackers will graft on the training ground this week to ensure they find their killer touch in front of goal ahead of Friday’s Pittodrie clash with Hearts.
Although most were played out of position, Aberdeen started with four recognised centre- forwards against Celtic on a day the Parkhead side sealed the Premiership crown.
Cosgrove accepts all four – himself, James Wilson, Stevie May and Greg Stewart – have to shoulder responsibility for not burying clear opportunities.
On-loan Manchester United striker Wilson missed two clear chances with the tie balanced at 0-0 while Cosgrove also had a clear opportunity saved.
A by-product of defeat to Celtic was Aberdeen being leapfrogged by Kilmarnock into the third spot which brings automatic qualification for the Europa League.
They have two games remaining against Hearts and Hibs to overhaul Kilmarnock.
Cosgrove said: “There are fine margins in football and the four attacking players have to take a big part of the responsibility.
“Especially for that chance where I personally have to put it away and then with the rebound Willo (James Wilson) has to put that away as well.
“For how that game went we have to take a big chunk of responsibility.
“When the team is sometimes up against the wall, which you come across when playing against teams like Celtic, we can take massive pressure off everyone else if we put those chances away. We had a good start to the first half and should have been 1-0 up.
“As centre forward players we just have to work at getting those goals that can be the difference.
“We will work on it and you cannot get away from hard work. We will go back to the training ground.”
Cosgrove confirmed the Reds will also study footage of the defeat to Celtic. Despite conceding three goals he reckons the defence is not an area that will need much scrutiny. The 22-year-old said: “We have to watch the game back and we will learn from that. It wasn’t a bad performance as there were a lot of positives to take out of it.
“The boys at the back have been absolutely fantastic all season. It is unusual for them to concede three goals so that is an aspect we do not have to work on, that normally comes naturally.”
Although Cosgrove has hit the 20-goal mark his fellow attackers have been less prolific this season with a combined total of just seven goals between them – May (3), Wilson (3) and Stewart (1) since arriving on loan from Birmingham in January.
To maintain the bid for third Aberdeen will have to turn around their dismal home form since the turn of the year when facing Hearts on Friday.
Aberdeen have just one victory from seven home Premiership games since the winter break.
They have taken only six points from a possible 21 – a return that fatally holed any bid to finish Premiership runners-up.
Rangers have secured second and are 14 points clear of Aberdeen. Cosgrove insists the Reds can deliver a win on Friday.
He said: “We have beaten big teams at Pittodrie on numerous occasions. So we can do it again.”
Celtic secured an eighth consecutive Premiership title with victory. Manager Neil Lennon and his team celebrated with their supporters at Pittodrie.
Cosgrove said: “We just headed inside. We didn’t actually see the celebrations. We never want to see anyone win here at Pittodrie but the main focus for us was on getting three points which we were more than capable of.
“Looking at the bigger picture we could have, and should have, got those three points.
“We were in the ascendency and had the control but did not get that win we needed.”
Dons boss manager Derek McInnes watched the action from the stands having been hit with a one match touch-line ban for a gesture towards Celtic fans in the Scottish Cup semi-final when reacting to sectarian chants.
McInnes confirmed he was targeted by the same chants by Celtic fans at Pittodrie.
Cosgrove said: “I don’t know what the status was with the ban but when the manager is missing it is a big blow not to have him there.”
McInnes will be back in the dug-out for Friday night’s match with Hearts, who will face Celtic in the Scottish Cup
A fourth placed finish in the Premiership could be good enough to secure European qualification, but only if Celtic beat Hearts in the final.
Cosgrove does not want to experience the uncertainty and lottery of relying on another team’s performance to determine their Euro destiny.
He said: “Europe is massive for us and we need that last big push to get there.
“It is just on to the next two games now and try to get as many points as we can from that.
“I think it is going to go down to the wire but all our focus is to get as much points as we can and get that last spot.”