Aberdeen’s season ended in disappointment as they crashed to a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Ross County at Pittodrie.
A third successive defeat was a bitter and painful way to call time on a season that had seen the Reds in the hunt for the Premiership title for so long.
This heavy loss was the nadir of a concerning slump where Aberdeen have stumbled to the end of the campaign with six losses from the last eight games.
A frustrating end to a campaign that promised so much as the Reds kick-started the bid for a first title since 1985 with a club record eight straight wins.
The season that started with a bang ended like a damp squib as the Reds failed to beat the record non Old Firm points total of 75 set last season.
Having the season fizzle out underlines the need to strengthen in the summer with both quality and more squad depth to have another title tilt next season.
Dons boss Derek McInnes has already secured Bournemouth striker Jayden Stockley on a pre contract.
But more reinforcements will be needed during the summer before the Europa League first qualifying round on June 30.
Ultimately the exertion of pushing for a title against a Celtic side with far higher budget and deeper playing resources took its toll.
There was little left in the tank in a campaign where the Dons had racked up trips to Macedonia, Croatia and Kazakhstan in Europe before a ball was kicked domestically.
As the curtain closed on the season it signalled the end of one era and the dawn of another.
Influential midfielder Barry Robson was made captain as he returned to the starting line up and was welcomed onto the pitch by a guard of honour from both teams.
A League Cup winner with the Dons Robson, whose contract was set to expire, bowed out from Pittodrie with a shift that underlined his class and grit.
As Robson exited there was the entrance of exciting teenage attacker Scott Wright for his debut start.
The 18-year-old Balmedie youngster produced a first start full of attacking flair to underline he is a star in the making.
Fellow teenager Scott McKenna also made his second successive start at centre-back and is also one for the future.
Before kick-off the Red Army unveiled a touching tribute to legendary Dons fan Norman Goldie who recently passed away aged 87.
Out of respect Aberdeen have retired Norman’s seat in the Merkland Stand and painted it half white, half red in recognition of his iconic different coloured socks.
And the fans paid tribute to one of their own with an impressive banner display that spanned the entire Richard Donald stand lower deck – with one red and one white sock.
Dons boss Derek McInnes made three changes to the starting 11 that lost 1-0 at Pittodrie to Hearts on Thursday.
Australian U23 international keeper Aaron Lennox came in for his first start of the season.
Lennox, who is out of contract in the summer, came in for on loan Rotherham stopper Adam Collin who had started the last three games.
Scott Brown was on the bench. The deals for all three keepers have now expired.
However Republic of Ireland U21 international keeper Danny Rodgers will be at Pittodrie next season having signed a two year contract extension.
Rodgers has been on loan at Falkirk all season and has been pivotal in their run to the play-off final.
Teenage attacker Scott Wright, 18, was handed his first Dons start.
At the other extreme of veteran Barry Robson, 37, also started and was made captain.
Skipper Ryan Jack and full back Graeme Shinnie, one booking from a suspension that would spill into next season, were left out of the squad.
Teenage centre-back Scott McKenna retained his starting place having made his debut first team start against Hearts.
With Adam Rooney and Simon Church both out injured McInnes had no recognised striker available.
He fielded Kenny McLean up top in a 4-2-3-1 and the Scotland international created the first opportunity when he flashed a 22 yard drive just wide of goal in the second minute.
Aussie keeper Lennox was called into action in the fifth minute when he dived low to block a Martin Woods 25 yard shot.
Soon after teenager Wright forced a save from County keper Scott Fox as the game began at a high tempo.
Aberdeen were next to threaten in the 13th minute when Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn latched onto a Jonny Hayes cross at the back post.
However Euro 2016 bound McGinn’s eight yard header was straight at Fox who comfortably saved.
Ross County were awarded a penalty in the 23rd minute when keeper Lennox clumsily bundled over Alex Schalk.
The Aussie was yellow carded, as there were four player behind him when he committed the foul.
Brian GRAHAM clinically converted the spot kick.
In the 41st minute Hayes snapped a rising volley over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.
Keeper Lennox parried a vicious 20 yard drive wide for a corner in the 44th minute.
From the resultant corner Graham headed across goal and Alex SCHALK sent a scissor kicked effort beyond the keeper just seconds before half-time.
Aberdeen left to boos from sections of the Red Army.
Harsh considering McInnes was fielding two teenagers and an untested keeper having secured runners-up spot and European qualification long before this game.
In the 55th minute Graham drilled in a dipping shot from 25 yards that flashed inches wide although the diving Lennox had the effort covered.
McInnes made a double substitution on the hour mark with Cammy Smith coming on for McGinn.
Striker Joe Nuttall came on for Robson who left to a standing ovation from the 10,000 strong Red Army.
Stepping past Willo Flood at the edge of the box Schalk curled beyond the far post in the 63rd minute as the game began to take on the stilted tempo of a pre-season friendly.
A brilliant save and the woodwork combined to deny the Dons in the 65th minute.
Flood directed a powerful header at goal and Fox acrobatically palmed it onto the crossbar.
Midfielder Flood was gifted a second chance as the rebound fell to him but he scooped a shot over the bar.
Ross County were gifted a chance when Ash Taylor was caught in possession and the Staggies capitalised by breaking forward.
With the goal beckoning Liam Boyce sliced wide from 15 yards.
Within a minute BOYCE made up for his miss when he drifted unchecked to the back post to meet a Woods cross.
Completely unmarked he punished atrocious defending from the Dons by heading in from close range.
Staggies went 4-0 up in the 78th minute with a sensational 25 yard left footed drive from WOODS that left Lennox stranded.
Suddenly the Dons were teetering on the brink of humiliation on a day that should have been a celebration of the season.
It sparked an exodus of disgruntled Dons fans, leaving before the customary end of season applause from the team.