Striker Adam Rooney believes Aberdeen are set for a strong finish to the campaign after learning how to cope with long seasons.
The William Hill Scottish Cup final on 27 May falls close to 11 months after the Dons kicked off their competitive campaign against Fola Esch in the Europa League on 30 June last year, the third season in a row they have started early.
The Dons have collected only seven points from a possible 30 in their post-split fixtures over the previous two seasons, but they have more cause to be focused this year with the Hampden date with Celtic to come.
Manager Derek McInnes goes into today’s encounter with St Johnstone with a fully -fit squad and Rooney feels that is testament to preparation and long-range planning.
“Sometimes injuries can be down to luck but also, earlier in the season, we did a lot more injury-prevention stuff,” the Irishman said.
“We monitor lads’ fitness and how tight they are after games on a Monday morning. That’s down to physios and the fitness coach really.
“It has probably had to do with the gaffer as well. We have probably tailored training differently. We might have had a few more days off or rest days, probably from the experience of having these long seasons. This is our third one in a row.”
The Dons also have plenty to play for in the league as they seek to maintain or extend their nine-point gap over third-placed Rangers.
“The last couple of years Celtic had won the league and we have kind of fallen away a bit,” Rooney said. “The gaffer has used it to give some younger lads game time as well, which is important for them.
“But we have a lot of big games still to play and everyone is fully focused, and I’m sure we will keep going until the final.”
Meanwhile, Chris Millar believes retaining the core of the team has been a vital part of St Johnstone’s recent success after he agreed a new deal which will take him to a decade at McDiarmid Park.
The midfielder has accepted a one-year contract with the Saints, who are fourth in the Ladbrokes Premiership, and wants to kick off his tenth campaign with another shot at the Europa League.
“I wanted to be here and I wanted to get it sorted as soon as possible so I am delighted,” the 34-year-old said.“It will take me to ten years. It’s very rare in football these days. At St Johnstone there has been Steven Anderson of late and Alan Main before.
“It speaks volumes for the club, there has always been a core of players here that has had success. I feel I have contributed to that over the nine years I have been here and, to go ten years at one club, it’s something when I finish playing that I can look back on and feel really proud.
“The gaffer and the gaffer before have always added to the spine. A few of us are getting a wee bit older now as well so we know we have less games ahead of us than we had before, but that’s one thing that has always led to the success here, the core of the team.
“There’s boys who know it all and as soon as new players come in they know exactly what the club is all about.”