It was apparent from very early on here last night that no Scottish title was being won at Dens Park, as could have happened. Celtic knew a Dundee win would hand them the league but will prefer having the chance to wrap things up for themselves against Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow.
In any case, Dundee proved completely ill-equipped to do anyone any favours, least of all themselves.
The sight of Andrew Considine, a left-back, completing his hat-trick summed up the scale of this humiliation for the hosts.
This was their fourth league defeat in a row and their third comprehensive loss to Aberdeen this season. But this was a new definition of comprehensive.
Paul Hartley’s side are looking nervously below them rather than entertaining thoughts of the top six.
Four down at half-time, Dundee seemed capable of conceding every time Aberdeen attacked, which was often.
This was another scintillating showcase of Aberdeen’s attacking potential and own capabilities. Considine, who turns 30 today, scored twice in the opening half while Adam Rooney and Kenny McLean also supplied neat finishes to ensure there would be no equivalent of a Jamie Vardy party at any Celtic player’s home last night.
Ryan Jack, Niall McGinn and then Considine again with second-half goals confirmed Dundee’s worst defeat since 1971.
Celtic’s own excellence has rendered redundant any concept of a title race in Scotland’s top tier. But how Aberdeen might wish Brendan Rodgers had not arrived to nudge Celtic up several levels.
On this kind of form, Aberdeen are irresistible. Now 11 points clear of Rangers and with a home game to come next weekend against the Ibrox side, Derek McInnes’s side look every inch the best of the rest after Celtic.
Dundee will have woken up on April Fools’ day wondering what hit them. They were the patsies in a relentless practical joke that was broadcast live across the nation. They lost six goals from crosses.
Dundee recently scored five times in the opening half against Motherwell to help cost Mark McGhee his job. Hartley shouldn’t fear quite such an extreme consequence but this was a humiliating night for a manager who prides himself in being tactically astute.
Hartley was skipper when McGhee’s Aberdeen conceded nine goals to Celtic seven years ago. When Jack slammed in the visitors’ fifth shortly after the interval here, anything seemed possible.
The second half hardly offered much relief. Hartley made two changes at half-time but Dundee conceded again just six minutes later when Jack converted McLean’s cross from the left.
A series of early corner kicks had signalled Aberdeen’s intent as they sought to delay the inevitable event of Celtic’s coronation.
Considine offered a glimpse of his threat when he headed past from McGinn’s corner after seven minutes.
Something seemed bound to give as the visitors kept knocking on Dundee’s door and so it did after 15 minutes. Considine did not even have to exert himself when meeting Hayes’ corner. It was a sign of what was to come, with Considine in particular making merry as Dundee forgot the simple basics of defending.
The signs were not very encouraging for Dundee from the off. Apparently unable to fill their bench due to injuries, the starting XI had a slightly brittle look to it. Marcus Haber, their joint top scorer this season along with the July departed Greg Stewart, was ruled out, so Faissal El Bakhtaoui made a rare start.
The French Moroccan recently scored a scintillating goal against Celtic from 22 yards but barely got this close to the Aberdeen goalkeeper to attempt such a trick again here. He did have one shot that bounded wide – Dundee’s only real chance of the game.
They lay already speared by then. Rooney made it two after 24 minutes with a straightforward header into the corner after Shay Logan’s left-footed cross while McLean turned Dundee left-back Kevin Holt inside out before rifling into the corner past Scott Bain to make it 3-0 after 34 minutes.
Another Considine headed goal, this time from a Graeme Shinnie cross, was perhaps the worst of the lot from a Dundee defensive point of view. The defender was left completely unmarked at the far post and a noticeable number of Dundee fans took this as their cue to exit.
It didn’t get any better for those home fans who remained. Jack made it five just after half-time before came possibly the most popular goal of the half dozen. McGinn, who has confirmed he will be leaving the club at the end of the season after five years, slid in at the far post in front of the Aberdeen fans to convert substitute Ryan Christie’s cross. And then Considine finished what he had started, bundling home Christie’s free-kick after Ash Taylor’s flick on with seven minutes left.