Banks o’ Dee co-manager Tommy Forbes says they are relishing testing themselves against Buckie Thistle in the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup.
The 2020-21 competition gets under way at Spain Park tomorrow when the North Region Superleague kings take on the Jags.
Forbes is full of respect for Buckie, who finished fourth in last season’s Highland League and reached the final of the Highland League Cup.
But, having reached the final of the Shire Cup in 2018 and been in three successive Aberdeenshire Shield finals (2017, 2018 and 2019), he hopes they can have another fruitful run.
The winner of the tie will also earn a crack at Aberdeen reserves in the quarter-final.
Forbes, who is joint boss with Jamie Watt, said: “Our Junior season kicks off next week with a League Cup section and then we’ve also got the Scottish Cup to look forward to next month with a draw against Vale of Leithen at home.
“But this is the start for us and this is a great game to start with and it’s been quite a positive week.
“We always enjoy these games in the Aberdeenshire Cup and Shield and testing ourselves against Highland League sides.
“I think we’ve reach four finals in recent years without managing to win one.
“But it’s tough because you’re always playing good sides. Cove have beaten us in a few finals and you see how well they’re doing in the SPFL.
“We got beat quite heavily in the Aberdeenshire Cup last year by Aberdeen (6-1) and it was disappointing the way the game got away from us.
“But these games against top Highland League sides like Buckie are great games and for the winners of the game they get a home tie with Aberdeen and that’s a great carrot to try to have another crack at them.
“It will be tough because Buckie have had a good pre-season and beat Brora to reach the final of the Highland League Cup before being edged out by Rothes.
“They were maybe a bit unfortunate with that and we know we’re in for a very tough game.”
Buckie Thistle boss Graeme Stewart expects a tough game against Dee, who he believes could compete at the top end of the Highland League.
The Jags gaffer said: “Over the years, I think Banks o’ Dee have beaten just about all the Highland League teams they’ve played.
“They’ve been in finals of the Cup and the Aberdeenshire Shield and to do that up against Highland League clubs shows you how strong they are.
“They’ve beaten other Highland League sides in the Scottish Cup over the years as well so we know how hard it’s going to be.
“If they ever decided to step up, Banks o’ Dee would be a welcome addition to the Highland League. If they ever make the step up, I think they could finish in the top four or five.
“That means it’s going to be a very difficult game for us on Saturday.”