Job done. Kenny McLean’s first-half strike saw off Hamilton Academical and set Aberdeen up for a Betfred Cup quarter-final with Motherwell.
The Dons progressed to the last eight and a tie at Fir Park with a deserved, but hard-fought victory over Accies, who unlike in Sunday’s Premiership opener, pushed them all the way.
Boss Derek McInnes made just one change to his side with Mark Reynolds replacing Kari Arnason in the centre of defence.
After a scrappy opening quarter-hour, there was a scare for the the Dons.
Hamilton broke forward, Ali Crawford tried to slip Steven Boyd in, goalkeeper Joe Lewis plunged bravely at the attacker’s feet to grab the ball and as he did so was caught on the head by Boyd – thankfully for the Reds after some medical attention Lewis was able to continue.
In the first-half, Aberdeen found it tougher to break Hamilton down than they had in Sunday’s league encounter.
Martin Canning employed a 4-1-3-2 formation with Darian Mackinnon used as a midfield destroyer, a change from the 5-4-1 used at the weekend.
With Dougie Imrie and Greg Docherty doubling up on each flank to help the full-backs, the Dons found it difficult to get free in wide areas and supply Nicky Maynard with crosses.
However, a poor clearance from keeper Gary Woods fell to Maynard 25 yards out.
After bursting into the area, he teed up Ryan Christie but Woods redeemed himself with a superb diving save to push the 10-yard shot round the post and then Aberdeen were nearly hit with a sucker-punch on the counter-attack after Woods punched a corner clear and Accies broke.
Imrie’s low deflected cross from the left wasn’t held by Lewis and it sat up perfectly for Boyd.
It seemed all he had to do was knock it into the net, but Crawford – who had also sprinted into the area after the cross –blocked the ball on the goal-line and was flagged offside.
Other than that flurry, there was little action and the first period appeared to be meandering towards the break.
However, the Dons took the lead two minutes before the interval.
Scott Wright created it by jinking away from Grant Gillespie on the left, he knocked the ball square for Graeme Shinne – the skipper’s shot from 20 yards was blocked – but it broke for MCLEAN who hammered the ball low past Woods from 15 yards with his right foot.
The Reds needed a super save from Lewis as he pushed Docherty’s fine strike from the edge of the area to safety and ensure they led at the break.
The second-half started in similar fashion to the first with both sides trying to dominate in midfield and the Dons looked more likely to create clear-cut chances.
The hosts did have a penalty claim turned down by referee Nick Walsh on 64 minutes when Anthony O’Connor tugged at Docherty’s shirt.
While the midfielder went down easily, it was a risk O’Connor did not need to take.
Hamilton tried to ramp up the pressure as the half went on but they struggled to create an opening.
With Hamilton committing more players forward in search of an equaliser, McInnes introduced Miles Storey, Gary Mackay-Steven and Greg Stewart to freshen up his forward line. With seven minutes left Stewart passed up a good chance to seal the tie.
Storey moved inside sub Massimo Donati on the left flank and crossed for Stewart at the back post but he volleyed wide.
Two minutes later Gillespie was close to a leveller with a drive from 18 yards that flashed just wide.
But this was a masterclass in how to manage a game from Aberdeen, in the final few minutes they were comfortable and gave the 1,956 Dons fans that cheered them on a quarter-final to look forward to.
Hamilton: Gary Woods, Scott McMann, Xavier Tomas (Massimo Donati 71), Grant Gillespie, Dougie Imrie, Greg Docherty, Rakish Bingham (Louis Longridge 63), Ali Crawford, Darian Mackinnon (Danny Redmond 67), Steven Boyd, Georgios Sarris.
Subs not used: Ryan Fulton, Ioannis Skondras, Darren Lyon, Ronan Hughes.
Aberdeen: Joe Lewis, Shay Logan, Anthony O’Connor, Mark Reynolds, Andy Considine; Greg Tansey, Graeme Shinnie; Ryan Christie (Greg Stewart 69), Kenny McLean, Scott Wright (Gary Mackay-Steven 67); Nicky Maynard (Miles Storey 71).
Subs not used: Danny Rogers, Kari Arnason, Jayden Stockley, Daniel Harvie.