Mark Reynolds is acutely aware that Aberdeen have squandered several opportunities to increase the pressure on title rivals Celtic this season but insists they can be rendered irrelevant with victory at Tynecastle tonight.
A win against Hearts would end any chance of the capital club overhauling the Dons for the runners-up spot but, more significantly, reduce the defending champions’ lead at the top to just two points.
That’s before Ronny Deila takes his far-from-convincing side to Fir Park tomorrow, and Reynolds knows all too well the difficulty of recording a victory there.
After all, just last month at the same venue, the defender was involved in a mix-up with goalkeeper Scott Brown that led to a costly Motherwell winner at such a crucial time of the season.
Not that Reynolds has any room for regrets at the moment as Aberdeen are still in the hunt for a first title in 31 years and his focus is making sure Derek McInnes’ side make the most of this rare opportunity to play before their rivals do.
Reynolds said:“They will hopefully feel a bit of pressure this time if all goes to plan and we get the three points. We always look forward and the next three points. The only time we tend to look back is the end of the season.
“The time for that is the end of the season where we look where we have finished and we can re-assess things from there. When you start living on ifs and buts and you start to beat yourself up, then you would end up killing yourself.
“You lose points and there are times when you feel you could have done better but we can’t change the past but we can influence the future. All we can influence is the next game and we know if we look too far ahead you can trip yourselves up.
“Every three points has been huge and any time we have dropped points it has always cost us. We just need to keep our heads down and win as many games as we can and we can then see where it takes us. We can only do what we need to do. Everybody else can say what they want.
“The way the league has gone every three points are massive for Hearts, Celtic and ourselves. We will try to take the three points and then kick on from there.”
Aberdeen certainly responded in style from that disappointing defeat at Motherwell as they swept Hamilton Accies aside 3-0 last weekend with a performance that effectively ensured the game was over as a contest before half-time.
It was a similar display to the one that led to a 3-1 win on their last league visit to Tynecastle in September which completed a record-breaking, eight-game winning start to the season.
Now the aim is to finish it with seven straight victories, something not even Aberdeen’s last title-winning team in 1985 could manage, although Reynolds knows it won’t be easy to achieve.
Injury kept him out of that early season win at Tynecastle, but he is looking for same sort of intensity from the start tonight if they hope to emerge with a similar outcome.
He added:“I wasn’t playing but it was probably one of our better performances.
“We went to Kilmarnock as well and played well away there. We just want to make sure the right Aberdeen come out to play.
“If we turn up with the same appetite and the same pace and attacking play as we did against Hamilton, then we would give ourselves a great chance and it will be a great game.
“Like Sunday, when we get that pace going into our attack I don’t think there are many teams who can live with us. ”
Aberdeen will be without the suspended Barry Robson as well as injured pair Peter Pawlett and Adam Rooney.
Rooney’s absence for the last six matches could have been a killer blow to their title chances as he remains the Premiership’s second-top scorer this season.
But the addition in January of Wales international striker Simon Church on loan from MK Dons has helped keep them in the hunt.
Whatever happens, they are set to break last season’s record points tally for an non-Old Firm club and Reynolds reckons that’s down to McInnes going for quality, not quantity.
He added:“We’ve always said how strong the squad is even though it is certainly not the biggest squad. We have 16 or 17 players that you could put in our starting XI without any qualms.
“We are very strong and the team is ticking along nicely. We have improved year on year and we are getting better.
“We have been up there all year challenging so now we just need to keep going on.”