Derek McInnes believes his Aberdeen side will take on a Hibernian team already bearing new boss Terry Butcher’s stamp when they meet on Friday.
The former England skipper Butcher replaced Pat Fenlon in mid-November and since then has rejuvenated a previously jittery Easter Road squad.
Their only defeat since the ex-Inverness boss arrived came at home to runaway Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic, while the January 2 win over city rivals Hearts has allowed the Leith faithful to show their faces in Edinburgh for the first time this season after Fenlon’s team lost the first two derbies of the year to the crisis-hit Jambos.
McInnes’ men now welcome Hibs to Pittodrie and the Dons manager paid tribute to Butcher’s impact.
He told RedTV: “I think it’s going to be a tough match. They are in a fantastic bit of form at the moment, the biggest compliment I can pay Terry Butcher and his team is that I am not surprised they have improved.
“He finds ways to win games and his players look as if they are well versed in what he demands. Hibs have always had good players but I think they have an identity now and it’s not too dissimilar to how his Inverness team played.”
It took two late Dundee United goals at Tannadice on Sunday to prevent Hibs extending their winning streak to four games.
But Aberdeen are also in fine form having won six of their last seven leagues games - a run which has seen them rise above Motherwell into second place, albeit having played a game more.
“I think Hibs will expect a tough match from us as we are in decent form so it’s two clubs who have good support and hopefully they will all come out and make the game that bit more special,” said McInnes.
“I think our players deserve so much credit. They’ve had a real focus on the job at hand recently, a real good run, seven wins out of eight and that’s good going when the games are coming thick and fast.
“We’ve managed to keep that concentration and we’re looking forward to getting back to playing at Pittodrie. Our last performance here against Ross County was good so hopefully we’ll have a similar outcome on Friday.
“We’ve got to maintain our focus. We’ve got to keep working as hard as we have done. There are good teams in and around us and they’ll be itching to be that team in second place.
“For us it’s just concentrating on the next game which offers another potential three points for us.”
Aberdeen will be without defender Michael Hector after he was recalled by his parent club Reading following a six-month stint in the Granite City.
McInnes, though, has already replaced him by borrowing Alan Tate from Swansea and the boss admits he could dip into the transfer market again.
He said: “I am really happy with the squad as it stands but in terms of looking at anything else it would be remiss of us not to keep our ear to the ground and keep abreast of any situation that may develop.
“I will always be interested in players who I think can help us achieve what I think we can achieve this season.
“I think the boys have really applied themselves well and there’s a good spirit amongst the team but if there was someone who could help us I would certainly ask the question.”