Aberdeen midfielder Dylan McGeouch insists winning the race to finish third would deliver a positive shine to a frustrating season.
A campaign that has been stop-start and frustrating for McGeouch due to injuries and also for the team following a drop in form since the turn of the year.
Under the guidance of new manager Stephen Glass and assistant Allan Russell, the Dons have rediscovered Premiership form to keep the bid to finish third alive.
That fight will go to the final game of the season at the weekend should Aberdeen beat third-placed Hibs at Pittodrie tonight.
With the Edinburgh club holding a three-point advantage and superior goal advantage, it is win or bust for the Dons.
Anything less than three points and hopes of third will be over before season closer away at Premiership champions Rangers on Saturday.
McGeouch is determined to triumph against his former club Hibs tonight to set up a dramatic last day push for third.
He said: “It’s been a stop-start season, but hopefully we can put ourselves in a position where we’ve got it all to play for at the weekend.
“We want to finish as high up the table as possible, but Hibs’ motivation will be the same.
“It’s two big clubs, but hopefully we can come out on top.
“Obviously results last week went our way as we won (2-1 Livingston) and Hibs dropped points, so it set it up nicely for this week.
“We have to look after things by getting a win against Hibs, which is the most important thing for us.
“That is our main objective, getting the three points, then if we do we have it all to play for on Saturday.”
Hibs are bidding to finish third for the first time since 2005, whereas the Dons secured runners-up finished for four straight seasons from 2015-18.
Since finishing second in the table in 2018 the Reds, however, have slumped to fourth-placed finishes for the previous two seasons.
McGeouch is determined it will not be a treble of fourth-placed finishes.
He said: “Obviously, Aberdeen over the last few years have been there or thereabouts third and that is the standard you want to be at.
“At a big club you want to finish as high up the table as possible.”
Should Aberdeen triumph tonight they would still trail the Easter Road club on goal difference, barring an unlikely high-scoring victory.
Aberdeen then have arguably the tougher of the season-closing games when facing Premiership champions Rangers at Ibrox.
Rangers have a 100% home record in the Premiership, having won all 18 of their league games at Ibrox, scoring 53 times and conceding just four.
Steven Gerrard’s side will be presented with the Premiership trophy after the game with Aberdeen – the Dons will have to ruin their title party to finish third.
Hibs host dethroned champions Celtic, who have won just nine of their 18 Premiership games on the road this season.
McGeouch is desperate to be involved from the start in the remaining two games of the season to help the bid for third – and impress new manager Glass, who is assessing the squad.
He made his first start under Glass in the 2-1 defeat of Livingston in the Dons’ last match and impressed in a defensive midfield role.
It has been a season of frustration for McGeouch, who suffered a groin tear in October that ruled him out of action for three-and-a-half months.
He returned on February 6 when starting in the 2-0 loss to Hibs at Easter Road, but mustered just one more start after that under former boss Derek McInnes.
McGeouch said: “To be at the top of your game, you need to have a run of games.
“It has been a bit stop-start for myself through injury and finding myself out of the team.
“It has been a frustrating one, but I came into the team last week and we got a good result.
“If I can finish off the season as strong as possible, personally and as a team, we will be off for a few weeks then go again.
“Then we work under the new manager in the pre-season and hopefully start positively.”
⚽️🔴 On this week's Northern Goal podcast, how will Dons fans be feeling about Stephen Glass' early moves to rebuild the @AberdeenFC squad?
— EveningExpress Sport (@ee_sport) May 11, 2021