A feisty atmosphere, VAR, a penalty retake, and a goalmouth rammy saw it progress from tasty to positively-mouth watering before the interval had even arrived. But what Hibs will have found hard to swallow as they headed up the tunnel to chew things over at that stage is the fact they were behind.
It wasn’t that they had taken total control of the opening period but they had enjoyed the upperhand in terms of possession and shots. They hadn’t converted any of it into something tangible, though, and when Luis Lopes cut inside, and then tumbled in the box as visiting keeper David Marshall dived at his feet, they were left to rue that.
Their misery was further compounded in the 15 minutes after the restart as Aberdeen pounced twice to put the game beyond the Leith side. And, although Hibs pulled one back, after another interminably long wait for VAR to overturn an offside decision and validate Myko Kuharevich’s 71st tap in, Aberdeen had more to offer.
Illustrating the swagger in the side on their home turf, Leighton Clarkson’s invention saw him catch the guests off guard with a cheeky back-heel in the crowded box to make it four six minutes later.
Some Hibs fans had donned Porteous masks as Jim Goodwin took up his enforced position in the Main Stand, the consequence of that post-match dig at the Scotland defender after he had won the penalty that saw Liam Scales sent off and turned things in Hibs’ favour in their September head-to-head.
But Hibs have only won once at Pittodrie in over a decade. Addressing that would take a strong performance as the Dons have been in prolific form on their own patch this term, winning four of their five home games and netting 17 goals and conceding just five in the process.
With third place up for grabs, they were also looking to bounce back from a humbling defeat at Ibrox last week.
Hibs went into the game buoyed by a convincing victory over another of their challengers for third spot, St Mirren, and the return of Kyle Magennis from suspension, but they were without Martin Boyle due to the knee knock he suffered which had left his World Cup dream in the balance.
In possession of third spot, the capital side were looking to retain it, and while the opening skirmishes were end to end, they edged it as the game settled. But they couldn’t get enough of their efforts on target.
That cleared the way for Aberdeen, who are rapid on the counter and have real threats in Lopes and Bojan Miovski, who moved into double figures with his brace in this game, to keep pressing.
The first was from the spot, after VAR awarded the penalty and then demanded the retake after Marshall moved off his line.
The second was a header in the 52nd minute, before Yiber Ramadani converted from the edge of the area to net the third that handed them control and, ultimately, third place.