The Dons may be starting the season behind closed doors – but boss Derek McInnes is still determined to deliver for the Red Army.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic it seems like it will be October at the earliest before Aberdeen will be able in front of fans again.
Just because supporters won’t be in the ground on Saturday when the Reds kick-off the Premiership season against Rangers McInnes knows the expectation won’t be any less.
Having watched the English Premier League and Championship resuming behind closed doors and seen some of the games almost resemble friendlies the Aberdeen manager is determined to avoid the same feeling in their early matches.
McInnes has stressed the importance to his squad of delivering results behind closed doors for the supporters watching at home.
He said: “It will be different and it’s something we’re really mindful.
“Having watched a lot of the English Premier League and Championship games, there’s no doubt the standard, speed and intensity has got better as they’ve gone along.
“Initially it was all a bit unsure and a bit tepid and it didn’t really feel like a real match.
“The fans being missing is a huge part and I think part of it was to do with players just coming back.
“But it was all a wee bit false and felt a wee bit friendly-ish. So we’ve got to be mindful of that coupled with the fact we haven’t played for so long.
“From when we beat Hibs at Pittodrie (3-1 on March 7) to when we play Rangers, it will be almost five months.
“So I think a combination of that lack of competitiveness and no fans there is a concern for us.
“What we’ve stressed to the players that they’ve got to find individually that intelligence to recognise the major threats, that’s the only way it’s going to help us perform.
“Any team has to play with an edge and sometimes the supporters can help bring that edge.
“We’ve got to be sure we always know who we’re playing for and who we’re representing and understand the importance of picking up points early on before the supporters come back in and it starts to become a bit more familiar.
“It’s something we’re really mindful of and it’s something we’ve stressed to the players – that they need to have that fire in their belly, that real competitive edge, that determination to play like that in the game.
“The demand is there and making sure the players are aware of that because we all know who we play for and who we represent.
“The players have got to grasp that because it is important – it’s not friendlies or a little trial period before supporters come back – it’s starting for real and it’s important we’re ready for that.”
To familiarise themselves with playing behind closed doors, the Dons have played friendlies against St Johnstone and Hibs at an empty Pittodrie.
McInnes says they have been useful experiences, while a final 11 v 11 intra-squad practice match is planned for today (Tuesday) to ensure everyone is up to speed ahead of tackling Rangers.
McInnes added: “Playing at Pittodrie has been different, the whole build-up to the games is different.
“We have two lots of changing rooms, staff were restricted to their offices and only myself, Tony Docherty and the physio were in the dressing room with the players, and then there’s another overspill dressing room.
“Obviously we’ve got to give up a couple of dressing room areas as well for the away team.
“So there’s been a lot of getting used to our surroundings, but once the games start it’s been good to just get back playing at Pittodrie after so long.
“We’ve also played a few 11 v 11s among ourselves and we’ve got as much out of those games in terms of the physical input as we have from the friendly games.
“From a physical point of view, it was good to have the game on Saturday to familiarise ourselves with the protocols and organisation of Pittodrie on a matchday.
“We’re trying to top up everyone’s minutes as much as we can and trying to get used to our surroundings as much as we can.”