Aberdeen bounced back from Europa League heartache to remain unbeaten away from home domestically in 2020.
There was no hang-over from the exertions or disappointment of exiting the Europa League 1-0 to Sporting Lisbon just three days earlier in their 3-0 win at Ross County.
Now, the challenge is for Aberdeen to deliver consistent performances of this level to secure European qualification again next season.
If the Reds can deliver this attacking intent and defensive solidity week in, week out, European qualification for an eighth straight campaign will be achieved.
This win kept the Dons in fourth spot, just two points behind third-placed Hibs – but Aberdeen crucially hold two games in hand on the Easter Road side.
Any concerns regarding a potential hangover from Lisbon were quickly dispelled in a rampant opening 10 minutes where Aberdeen should have had the three points sown up.
Aberdeen should have won far more emphatically than the three-goal advantage.
It would be no exaggeration to say this could have been 6-0.
Such was the attacking potency of the Reds, particularly in that kinetic opening spell, it was unfortunate no supporters were present to witness it.
Change in formation allows Niall McGinn to feature
Aberdeen went with a 3-4-1-2 with Ash Taylor at the centre of the three-man defence, with Andy Considine on the left and Tommie Hoban on the right.
Returning to the starting XI, Ryan Hedges was a wing-back along with Jonny Hayes.
Lewis Ferguson and Ross McCrorie marshalled central midfield.
In attack were Marley Watkins and Niall McGinn, with Scott Wright tucked in behind them.
Ross County went 4-1-4-1.
County’s Vigurs lucky to be on as long as he was
Ross County were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men in the 38th minute for a cynical challenge by Iain Vigurs on Ross McCrorie.
Vigurs went in with a straight leg, studs up challenge on the Aberdeen midfielder with little attempt to play the ball.
Referee Willie Collum only booked Vigurs. However, Vigurs did walk when shown a straight red for bringing down Ross McCrorie for a penalty on the hour mark.
Away form is cause for optimism
Aberdeen remain unbeaten away from home domestically in 2020.
The 1-0 defeat to Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League last week was the only time in the calendar year the Dons had lost away from Pittodrie.
Their last away domestic defeat was to champions Celtic on December 29 last year.
If the Reds can recreate that form at Pittodrie, it will be a strong season.
Tommie Hoban superb, despite playing more than boss Derek McInnes would like
Defender Tommie Hoban started in Dingwall despite playing all 90 minutes of the 1-0 loss to Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.
He dislocated a finger against Ross County, but continued with it heavily strapped up.
Dons boss Derek McInnes recently confirmed he planned to rest Hoban after Euro games to manage his game time after 18 months out following knee surgery.
However, the sale of Scott McKenna to Nottingham Forest for £3 million last week and the absence of centre-back Mikey Devlin with a hamstring injury limited options.
In his appearances so far, including yesterday, Hoban has been dominant in the air and calm in possession with the ball at his feet.
Marley Watkins ends near-nine-month goal drought – hopefully the first of many in red
On his eighth start since arriving on loan from Bristol City attacker Marley Watkins netted his first goal for Aberdeen with a superb header.
Watkins had impressed during the loan move with his movement, work rate and link-up play. He certainly ran Ross County’s backline ragged yesterday.
The only thing that had been missing was a goal. Now it has arrived, the hope would be it will be the catalyst for many more.
It was the 29-year-old’s first goal since netting for Bristol City in a 3-0 Championship defeat of Luton on December 29.
Dons and County play to empty stands after both hosting successful test events
Just two weeks ago both Aberdeen and Ross County delivered brief light at the end of the tunnel for Scottish football and supporters.
Both clubs successfully held test events with 300 supporters welcomed for their home matches.
However, hopes of supporters returning have diminished considerably since those two test matches.
With rising Covid-19 cases and fresh coronavirus restrictions imposed there is now the very real threat supporters could be locked out of grounds until spring.