Aberdeen have been Celtic’s nearest domestic challengers for a good few years now.

League runners-up the past four seasons, the season before last they were runners-up to the Hoops in all three major domestic competitions. Sunday provided the Dons with more Hampden heartbreak but it should be different this time.

Having already lost to Celtic in the Betfred Cup final, it’s rotten luck that they draw them in the Scottish Cup too. The issues surrounding their semi-final like club captain and potentially Derby-bound Graeme Shinnie’s suspension were of course an added annoyance.

Squad selection was a setback

Gary Mackay-Steven was a key notable absentee, often the Dons’ main man. The in-form Niall McGinn another, the two wingers could’ve come back to haunt their former club.

Mackay-Steven and McGinn were two major misses for McInnes’ men. (photo by Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The side on Sunday were relatively inexperienced, six of 11 starters were under the age of 22. Whilst it may not have helped them in their semi-final, there’s a good young core there that can’t be ignored.

Daft decisions deterred the Dons’ chances

What will annoy Derek McInnes is how his side shot themselves in the foot. It was made apparent that there’s no real replacement for the absent Shay Logan. Whilst Dominic Ball’s first booking was rather harsh, he can’t have any complaints with his second. It came following a coming together with former Red Ryan Christie.

The penalty could also have easily been avoided. Mikey Devlin should’ve come out, met the ball and steered Aberdeen clear of any danger. His failure to do so is ultimately what puts the game beyond them.

Lewis Ferguson’s challenge is silly, mistimed and it’s down to three individual errors that led to Celtic’s progression you could say.

Celtic’s James Forrest celebrates opening the scoring while Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes looks on (photo by Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The Dons don’t look as though they’ll finish second this season unlike previous campaigns.

But they must pick themselves up ahead of five massive post-split games to nick third place off Kilmarnock, who they play first, and prove they’re a decent Premiership outfit after all.

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