Manager Derek McInnes is a realist and accepts the two domestic cups are Aberdeen’s greatest opportunity for success.
In the Premiership, McInnes has run Celtic close in previous seasons. But ultimately the superior spending power and squad of the Hoops have triumphed.
Now there is the multi-million spending of Rangers, managed by England and Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, to add to the mix.
McInnes and the Reds will attempt to overturn the odds in the league. But ultimately cash and squad depth, particularly relevant with the Reds in the midst of an injury crisis, will always tip the balance towards the Old Firm.
Which is why cup competition is so vital to McInnes who ended a 19-year silverware drought by leading the Dons to League Cup glory in 2014.
Aberdeen will tonight face Hearts in the League Cup quarter-final and McInnes warned it is all or nothing tonight in the bid to emulate 2014 – they are either in or out and must maximise the opportunity at Tynecastle to secure a semi-final slot.
He said: “The focus from my teams over the years has always been to see the bigger picture about trying to win a trophy.
“To do that you need to win tough games.
“Every time we have been to Hampden for a final we have had to overcome tough challenges.
“There is no doubt Hearts away is a tough game but the intention is to make it even tougher for Hearts and get into the semi.”
Since lifting the League Cup McInnes has led the Dons to three further finals, but all were lost to Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic.
Last season Aberdeen knocked Rangers out of both cup competitions but lost to Celtic 1-0 in the League Cup final. He said: “I have never thought the cups were down to Rangers and Celtic.
“If Celtic and Rangers are doing their job right by recruiting well and have good managers, as they clearly have, then it becomes more difficult for teams like ourselves to challenge through the league.
“With the money they have it is difficult for any team to compete with these teams in the league.
“They can compete for a period of time but they (Celtic and Rangers) have the longevity and strength in squad which make it difficult for other clubs.
“Cup competitions offer us the best chance of success.
“We have won one cup and been close a number of times and know the importance of cups to this club.”
Aberdeen suffered disappointment last season when narrowly losing to Celtic in the League Cup final at Hampden.
That second trophy for now remains elusive.
McInnes said: “That is done now. It is all about trying to use all the disappointments and experiences you get to keep going back to Hampden.
“This is a new squad we have put together so a lot of the boys have not experienced playing in semi-finals and finals.
“It is vital that they see the importance of that.”
Aberdeen will be backed by a 2,000-strong travelling Red Army in the bid to be in the pot for the draw which will be broadcast live on BT Sport tomorrow night following coverage of Livingston’s quarter-final with Rangers.
Semi-finals are scheduled for the weekend of November 2/3.
Aberdeen have six players out injured for tonight.
McInnes said: “By the time the semis come round we will hopefully be in a better state with injuries.
“In the meantime we have to make sure we put our best foot forward and put in a performance that gets us there.”
Hearts will be buoyed by a 2-1 Edinburgh derby triumph that delivered a first league win of the season and alleviated some of the pressure on Craig Levein.
There had been demonstrations outside Tynecastle following the 3-2 defeat to Motherwell which sank the Edinburgh club to the bottom of the Premiership.
McInnes is concerned too many clubs in Scotland are edging towards pulling the trigger on manager’s reigns too early.
He said: “Craig has been battered from pillar to post over the last few weeks.
“As a manager, to see another manager come under real scrutiny so early in the season is really disappointing.
“We are in real danger of going down the same road as what happens in England. Last year managers lost their jobs in August.
“It used to be October or November before people even began to question a manager.
“They are now losing jobs in August and it all becomes very unhelpful and unrealistic.”
Beating Hibs ended a winless league streak dating back to March for Hearts.
McInnes said: “Hearts will be feeling good about themselves. If you win a big game, particularly a derby, it can be more than just three points.
“To be honest if Hearts had won, lost or drawn the derby I would expect a tough game.
“Craig Levein is the type of manager who knows the importance of cups as well.
“He is a good competitor and his teams are always competitive.
“We have to make sure that competitive side of our game is there so we can be good enough to win regardless of how Hearts are feeling.”