Aberdeen defender Andrew Considine believes his side’s struggles over the last fortnight can only serve to make them stronger as they target a first cup victory at Tynecastle since the mid-1950s.
While it has not been an ideal scenario, the long-serving defender is convinced two positives have sprung from Aberdeen’s shaky period of early-season form. The reaction from supporters has underlined to their new recruits just what is expected of them at the club.
Secondly, the character that came to the fore as the team dragged themselves out of a very worrying predicament at Dens Park indicates that manager Derek McInnes has found those with the right personality to play for his team.
Considine delayed plunging the dagger into Dundee until later than usual on Sunday when rescuing his side in time added on to secure extra time. It was his sixth strike against the Dens Park side in recent seasons. A Sam Cosgrove goal took Aberdeen through to the quarter-finals, where they will not find it any easier against Hearts.
The fact they kept pressing for the equaliser against a backdrop of grumbles from more than 3,000 travelling supporters said everything about their mettle after a nine-day period to forget. The problems have even stretched back further, to when Considine’s centre-half partner Scott McKenna submitted a transfer request to the dismay of fans in the days leading up to the first leg of their third round Europa League qualifying tie against Rijeka. Two subsequent defeats by the Croatians bookended a very poor defeat by St Mirren in the league.
“Even losing the one game you feel the backlash,” said Considine. “You don’t want to have to feel as though you have your tail between your legs and you can’t walk around and look each other in the eye. That’s not the kind of team we are.
“We have built a good team ethic and we are really close as a bunch of boys. It is days like that really shows the character and how much we have gelled as a team. In previous years boys have come in in late August and what not, but (this time) we have actually built a good squad for pre-season and it is a good group of boys.”
Half of the outfield players on Sunday were new recruits brought into the club this summer. Craig Bryson made his full debut at Dens while others such as Funso Ojo, Greg Leigh and Ryan Hedges are still finding their feet.
“I think a lot of the boys who have come in maybe do not realise the size of the club and the expectation at Aberdeen,” said Considine, who joined the club when he was 15 years old.
“To go three defeats on the bounce, and I know that included two European games as well, is not great. There is an expectation to get results here, and to come to a place like (Dens Park) is not easy but we dug it out.
“Aberdeen is a massive club but I think the boys are getting the gist of that now. I have been lucky enough to be here for 17 years and I know what it takes and how it feels. The bottom line is we are through to the next round and looking forward to that.”
When Considine says that Tynecastle has been “a tough place to go over the years”, he isn’t joking. While Dens has been a happy hunting ground for Aberdeen, the opposite is true when it comes to Tynecastle, certainly in cup competitions.
The Dons have not won a tie in Gorgie since a League Cup victory in September 1955. They have a tricky trip to Kilmarnock this weekend to come before two successive home games against Ross County and St Johnstone.
There is plenty time and opportunity to build on Sunday’s comeback win prior to returning to cup action in late September.
Although he would rather have the scheduling headache necessitated by more European action, McInnes is relishing being able to get back to a routine of training during the week and then playing at the weekend. The players got into Aberdeen at 4am on the Friday morning before the St Mirren match after the trip back from Croatia.
“We will be better going forward, there is no question about it,” said McInnes. “Hopefully we can now get some rest.”