DEREK McInnes is far too shrewd to claim his team can win the Premiership this season but the Aberdeen manager is certain Celtic can only lose it.
What is beyond doubt is that his team are still within touching distance of the defending champions much deeper into the season than has been the case for many years.
They go to Inverness on Sunday trailing the leaders by just four points, having not conceded a single goal in the six wins out of their last seven league matches.
However, the one significant blot on that record was a 2-1 defeat at home to Celtic who ground out the victory at Pittodrie despite having skipper Scott Brown sent off.
That helps explain why McInnes remains determined to shy away from any rash predictions about ending Aberdeen’s 30-year wait for a league title.
Celtic can only throw it away as far as he’s concerned, but the Dons manager is delighted to see so many teams, including his own, at least keeping the pressure on at the top.
He said: “What is pleasing for Dundee United, Caley Thistle, Hamilton and ourselves is that we are still up there at the minute.
“We are all striving for consistency of performance and results and improving. We’re two points better off than this stage last season while Accies, United and Caley Thistle have all improved too.
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“But it’s a fact that only one team can lose the title and we’re all trying to get closer to them. The fact we are four points off them is better than we were last season and we have all got to be happy with that.
“I can only speak for my own team and all we can do is try to knuckle down and keep producing that level of performance.
“We’ve done it despite injuries but we’re only halfway through the season. We want to beat last season’s tally and if we do we will see where that takes us.”
Aberdeen only moved above Caley Thistle in the table at the start of the month but can increase their advantage to five points with a win at Inverness on Sunday.
Regardless of that McInnes expects another hard test against a team they only got the better of by a single goal up there last December, despite being four goals to the good at half time.
McInnes added: “Any time we have faced Inverness it has always been a tough game for us. They have a lot going for them. They have pace, talented players, a goalscorer and real experience.
“I look at their bench every week and it is a really experienced squad which is why every game has been nothing but tough.
“We played them here earlier in the season and at 2-2 it could have gone either way but thankfully we got the winning goal.
“I’m sure Sunday will be no different and they will be expecting as tough a game as we are. Their defeat on Saturday was harsh when you see the winning goal but we watched them against St Mirren and they were excellent.
“They are up there as they are a good side and if we finish above them we will have had a good season.”
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