Aberdeen expertly illustrated why actions speak louder than words as they closed the gap on Celtic to three points with a dominant display at Rugby Park.
Derek McInnes insisted he was unaware if Kris Boyd’s reiterated verbal attack on Graeme Shinnie and Kenny McLean gave his side extra motivation.
But it was surely no coincidence that they were the best two players on the field and fatefully combined for the first goal after barely a minute.
Stevie May ended his goal drought with a deflected second goal and a brilliant third after Jordan Jones, who was sent off in the final minute, was allowed to score from Joe Lewis’s mistake.
And it sets up the Dons perfectly for a double header with rudderless Rangers.
McInnes said: “Kris walked past our dressing room at the start of the game and I tried to drag him in but he said ‘I’m not going in there’.
“I’ve no problem with what he said even if I don’t agree with it but there wasn’t any extra added motivation to do well because of that.
“Whether the players spoke about it I don’t know but my motivation was to bounce back from last week’s defeat and take the three points.
“Scoring two early goals put the pressure on Kilmarnock.
“It was a poor decision to have a goal disallowed just after half-time and had we gone 3-0 up at that stage it would have been more comfortable.
“By and large I’m pleased with the players as we were all hurting after last week’s performance.
“That’s ten wins and two draws in our last 12 away games which shows a good focus and a good level of performance from us. I’m disappointed not to keep a clean sheet but pleased with the three points.”
Aberdeen could hardly have scripted it better as Shinnie and McLean took less than a minute to ram Boyd’s words of criticism down his throat.
It was a simple pass from Shinnie on the left side to set up McLean, pictured, who drove into the Killie box and hammered a low right-foot shot past Jamie MacDonald.
The only surprising thing was that McLean, who was outstanding all day, did not run to the Killie bench where Boyd was sitting to give him a wave.
The Dons effectively had the game won after 12 minutes when May’s header firstly hit Kirk Broadfoot then Stephen O’Donnell before flying past Jamie MacDonald.
They should have had a third when May slammed home Gary Mackay-Steven’s cross in 46 minutes but it was ruled out for offside.
So when Lewis misjudged Jones’ strike in 67 minutes it gave Kilmarnock some hope when they should have had none.
May made certain 15 minutes from time when he took Andrew Considine’s pass and twisted away from Broadfoot and Gordon Greer to drive a low shot into the left corner.
To make matters worse for Killie they had Jones sent off in the final minute. Having been booked just before he scored, he collected a second yellow for going in late on Shay Logan.
Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke said simply: “It was a very bad start. It was game over after ten minutes.
“There was no point thinking about trying to get back into it after a start like that.
“It was a really slow start, we didn’t get out of the traps and the game was over after ten minutes. You can’t give good teams like that a two-goal start. I don’t know what caused the bad start. You guys have seen us play over recent weeks – there had been no sign of anything like that. It’s a big mystery.”