GIVEN Aberdeen’s recent record against Celtic it would only be natural for their players to approach today’s meeting with some trepidation but that certainly won’t be a problem for Graeme Shinnie.
It’s the left back’s first involvement in the fixture since signing for his home town club in the summer but the occasion holds no fear for someone used to success against the champions in his time with Inverness Caley Thistle.
Shinnie’s last act as the Highlanders’ captain was to lift the Scottish Cup after playing a significant role in the semi-final defeat of Celtic to get them to the showpiece game against Falkirk in the first place.
So impressive was he that Ronny Deila must have regretted not trying to sign the free agent who also helped John Hughes’ side win and draw the home league fixtures against the champions.
Instead it was Derek McInnes who secured the services of someone who has looked equally adept in defence and midfield so far this season and Shinnie isn’t intimidated by the prospect of facing Celtic or challenging them for the title.
“I think the key thing is to treat it like any other game and not having anything to fear up in Inverness” he insists. “We knew we could cause them problems and we did.
“With the squad we have here we can cause them problems. It’s just a case of being on our game on the day.
“If you go in being cautious about losing too many goals then you’ll end up losing them. It’s about going into the game with no fear.
“We’re going in off the back of a good start, so confidence is high. As long as the preparations are right then hopefully we can play well.
“We know the strengths we have and how we can cause them problems, no matter what they’re like. It’s up to us to exploit that.”
It’s a measure of how tough a fixture this has been for Aberdeen that in contrast to Caley Thistle’s four points from four games against Celtic last season the Dons have only taken that amount from the last 17 league meetings.
McInnes has been in charge of single victories in the league and Scottish Cup and knows only too well that ratio must improve dramatically if they are going to build on their success in winning the League Cup two seasons ago.
Sustained progress has been the manager’s aim since taking over from Craig Brown and becoming the first Aberdeen team in history to start a campaign with six successive league wins would be another milestone.
However, McInnes has made it clear a win today would only have strictly limited significance when he said: “I am not too interested in sending out a message but I am looking for improvement.
“If you look at the first five games, we have scored more and conceded less than the first five games last year. We’ve only conceded one goal all season and had four clean sheets before the international break. Improvement means a positive result on Saturday. We are looking to win the game but we are looking to improve as we go along.
“You just want to have a competitive team. We’ve managed to put together a strong, talented squad that’s full of confidence and has a brilliant spirit.
“We can never compare the resources [with Celtic] but we can be better in other aspects of the game. Hopefully we can show that.
“We’ve done it in European games, in semi-finals and winning cup finals. Players know and buy into the pressure as Aberdeen players.
“They are fortunate to play for an Aberdeen team that can get sell out crowds, to have that expectation and demand. The players don’t look at that as something that will hinder them.”