A fortnight ago the Dons lost the plot, on and off the pitch, during their 3-0 Scottish Cup semi final defeat against Celtic at Hampden when Dominic Ball and Lewis Ferguson were sent off while the manager and his assistant Tony Docherty were sent to the stand.
Last weekend they were the beneficiaries as Kilmarnock took their turn to implode, finishing with just eight men as Aberdeen secured a tenth successive league win at Rugby Park to move above Steve Clarke’s side into an automatic Europa League slot.
McInnes may have written off his team’s chances of the runners-up spot regardless of today’s result but qualifying for European football in all six season as Dons manager is the target for the viable candidate for the vacant Scotland job.
That, and a cautionary crime count of five red cards and 33 yellows in six previous meetings with Rangers in league and cup this season, is why he stressed:“Discipline is important in these type of games.
“It is normally a charged atmosphere but you never want it to spill over. There have been a lot of red cards this season – some were deserved and some maybe weren’t. [Sam] Cosgrove at Ibrox last time out was never a red card offence.
“You need to try and keep calm but you wouldn’t want to be anything other than competitive.”
McInnes is right to relish this meeting as Aberdeen have clearly got under the skin of their opponents, despite Steven Gerrard claiming his team were class above them after an opening-day draw at Pittodrie. So much so that the Ibrox manager’s fallen back on the hoary old accusation that the Dons only raise their game against Rangers while one of his players, Jon Flanagan, derided their opponents as a long-ball team.
Whatever the veracity of those claims, Aberdeen have knocked Rangers out of both cup competitions and head to Glasgow having won all three previous meetings in the city.
However, McInnes is more troubled by the 4-2 league defeat at Pittodrie two months ago as he added: “Arguably,that was probably our best performance against Rangers. It was more of an open game even though we got beat. Rangers showed their quality – they are as good as any team in the league when they have time and space to operate.”