IT is a case of enjoy it while you can, Inverness Caley Thistle. Ryan Christie, Celtic-bound by Christmas in all likelihood, stamped his mark on this victory with sparks of class and a wonderful goal.
In doing so, he served up a fair old favour for his new paymasters. For league leaders Aberdeen, it was a mighty missed opportunity, second best for lengthy spells and deserved losers.
Talk of “bubbles bursting” may be premature, but two defeats have now blotted the opening run of eight wins.
With Christie’s new employers toothless against Hearts, the Dons could have moved seven points clear but, instead, saw the advantage sliced by a point to four against a team they beat four times last term.
Inverness, five games unbeaten, surely face a struggle to persuade Ronny Deila to stretch young Christie’s loan deal through to summer.
Early on, the 20-year-old first unlocked the Dons’ defence with a sublime flash of skill for Miles Story’s well-struck opener, then hit a jaw-dropping second of his own from 30 yards.
Christie did take a late red card – and will miss the Highland derby next week – but it barely tarnished an outstanding display.
“Ryan is definitely here until Christmas at least,” home manager John Hughes stressed. “Was he trying to help his new club out a bit? I’m alright with that as long as he helps us, too.”
For that first half hour, the unacquainted might have imagined Inverness were the league leaders and Aberdeen the injury-stricken stragglers.
“The team that won the game, deserved to win the game,” Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, stressed. “In the first 45 minutes, I didn’t recognise my team.”
It was a cracking first half, full of grit and drama and a scattering of memorable moments. Sadly, the opposite was true of the second period.
With just eight minutes gone, Caley Thistle drew first blood with a moment of magic. The speed and elegance by which Christie wheeled away from ex-team-mate Graeme Shinnie was a sight to behold.
Christie quickly threaded a pass to the right of the box where Miles Storey took a touch and lashed a 16-yard shot past Danny Ward. It was the on-loan Swindon Town striker’s third goal in four games.
The home lead was halved, though, after 35 minutes.
Poor-marking at a Niall McGinn corner had Ash Taylor leaping unhindered to head past Fon Williams.
McGinn’s injury two minutes before the break brought an early return for striker Adam Rooney, but the Dons remained blunt and unimaginative.
The closest call came with eight minutes left as a curling Peter Pawlett free-kick smacked the post.
Christie took a red card in the 90th minutes after his second yellow and the Dons had one more chance, Pawlett squaring for David Goodwillie in space inside the box. The striker slipped and skewed his shot. It was that kind of day for the Dons.