Aberdeen’s unbeaten Premiership run in 2020 came to a crashing end as they were over-run 4-0 by league leaders Rangers at Ibrox.
Derek McInnes’ side had not lost on the road since last December but that record was obliterated by a ruthless Rangers, who extended their unbeaten run to 21 games in all competitions this season.
Aberdeen went into this match minus eight first team players due to a combination of injury and Covid-19 self isolation.
Regardless of the key players missing there was enough in the Aberdeen squad to push Rangers over 90 minutes.
Boss Derek McInnes was already without the injured Jonny Hayes, Niall McGinn, Dylan McGeough and Marley Watkins.
Ross McCrorie was also ruled out due to the terms of his season-long loan deal with parent club Rangers.
He will sign a permanent three-year deal for £350,000 next summer.
However, the Dons were hit with a Covid-19 crisis when McCrorie tested positive for the coronavirus upon returning to the club from international duty with the Scotland U21 squad.
Aberdeen were dealt a further blow when fellow U21 caps Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennan were subsequently identified as close contacts and forced to self isolate for 14 days.
All three players will also miss Wednesday’s Premiership clash at Hamilton and Saturday’s League Cup last-16 tie at St Mirren.
Just when it seemed the Dons predicament couldn’t get any worse, in-form attacker Scott Wright was also ruled out with a groin problem.
Captain Joe Lewis, making his 200th Dons appearance, came to the rescue in the fourth minute when James Tavernier played in Ryan Kent.
He was allowed too much space and unleashed a powerful low drive, but Lewis closed the angle and superbly blocked.
However, KENT would not be denied and nutmegged Funso Ojo deep in midfield in the 15th minute to open up space.
Greg Leigh backed off from making a challenge and allowed Kent to drift across midfield unchecked before unleashing a superb 25-yard drive that took a deflection off Tommie Hoban’s head to take it away from diving keeper Lewis and in off the far post.
Rangers had a shout for a penalty rejected soon after when Ojo appeared to have clipped Joe Aribo inside the box.
Aberdeen were struggling to get the ball out of their own half and when they did possession wasn’t sticking.
In the 23rd minute Ryan Hedges broke upfied and then slid a pass to the onrushing Sam Cosgrove, who made a well timed run to stay onside.
Cosgrove let fly a powerful 15-yard drive on the run but keeper Allan McGregor pushed it wide at his near post for a corner.
The resultant corner came to nothing.
Rangers made it 2-0 in the 30th minute when Kemar ROOFE superbly collected a pass over the top of the defence from Connor Goldson.
Roofe then stepped inside Andy Cosidine at the edge of the box and as the defence backed off he unleashed a low 18-yard drive beyond Lewis.
In the 45th minute, Matty Kennedy lifted a free-kick up and over the defensive wall, but McGregor dived to comfortably save the 25-yard strike to his right.
It was 3-0 in the 50th minute when Scott ARFIELD fired in a 20-yard shot that took a wicked deflection off Shay Logan’s back to send it spinning beyond Lewis, who was left completely wrong-footed.
Aberdeen were staring down the barrel of a humiliating defeat when it became 4-0 when Andy Considine clumsily bundled down Leon Balogun in the box.
Referee Nick Walsh rightly gave a spot-kick, and also booked Considine.
Rangers captain James TAVERNIER comfortably converted.
In the 80th minute, substitute Curtis Main shot on the turn from 12 yards out, but it was straight at keeper McGregor.
Substitute Hagi then shot wide from 22 yards.
In the 84th minute, teenager Ryan Duncan made his first-team debut when coming on for Greg Leigh.
Duncan is aged just 16 years 309 days. Although he only got the last few minutes, he certainly did not look overawed by either the opponent or the score-line.
ABERDEEN: Joe Lewis, Shay Logan, Tommie Hoban, Ash Taylor, Andy Considine, Greg Leigh, Funso-King Ojo, Ryan Hedges, Matty Kennedy, Sam Cosgrove, Ryan Edmundson.
Subs: Curtis Main (for Edmondson 65), Dean Campbell (for Cosgrove 76), Ryan Duncan (for Leigh 84), Hernandez (for Logan 84)
Subs: Gary Woods, Mikey Devlin, Mark Gallagher, Kieran Ngwenya, Calvin Ramsay.
RANGERS: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Jack, Kent, Ayodele-Aribo, Morelos, Roofe, Balogun, Barisic, Arfield.
Subs: Davis (for Jack 56), Defoe (for Morelos 66), Kamara (for Kent 66), Hagi (for Aribo 74), Itten (for Roofe 74)
Subs not used: McLaughlin, Bassey, Helander, Davis, Barker.
Referee: Nick Walsh