When he accepted the job, I am pretty sure Stephen Glass was all too well aware of the task facing him at the Dons, but if he did in any way underestimate the challenge, he got a timely reminder at Pittodrie last Sunday.
After the win over Livingston and the point against Celtic, there was every reason to feel confident going into the tie with Dundee United.
Instead, the players put in an abject performance, perhaps the worst of the season, and that’s saying something given the dross that has been served up on occasions throughout the campaign.
We were all anticipating a big clear-out come the summer, but that is now imperative as the squad needs ripped apart and reassembled if Glass is to have any chance of restoring the club’s fortunes.
Quite apart from bringing in a host of fresh faces, Stephen is going to have to decide which, if any, of the out-of-contract players should be offered new deals. That is likely to be a very limited number.
He also has to look closely at the development programme to assess which of the younger players can perhaps be fast-tracked into serious first team reckoning.
Given that the likes of Ethan Ross, Michael Ruth, Jack MacKenzie and Calvin Ramsay have all featured of late, it seems reasonable to expect them to be high on the manager’s list, and that we will see more of them in the last three matches of this campaign.
I have said for weeks now that I could not see us finishing in third place, and Hibernian look set to close that out, so everything Glass does from here on in will be with the 21/22 season in mind.
A win last weekend would have changed all that, and with Rangers being eliminated, it is now a wide-open Scottish Cup.
That said, there would have been no guarantees Aberdeen would have gone on to win it, and it may just be that we have been spared the pain of another Hampden defeat.
While there was of course the huge disappointment of the Dons going out, it was one of the most incredible quarter-final stages I can remember, topped off by St Johnstone’s heroics at Ibrox.
Callum Davidson’s Saints have already had a remarkable campaign, and they would now be my favourites to go on to clinch an historic double success.
The drama of their win over Rangers, and Zander Clark’s part in it, was breathtaking, and despite their dominance in the Premiership, Steven Gerrard and his team will now have to look back on their campaign with a large measure of dissatisfaction and disappointment.
Despite their clear superiority in the league, the Ibrox side crashed out of both knockout competitions in games they would have been expected to win.
That is a sharp reminder of just how incredible Celtic’s stranglehold on the domestic game was until this season.
It felt at times during their quadruple treble that some of their successes were taken for granted because of the clear advantages they had, but the consistency they displayed was astonishing, and I do not foresee that achievement ever being equalled, far less surpassed.
Aberdeen facing an uphill challenge
While Rangers’ departure from the Scottish Cup was welcomed by all neutrals and undoubtedly good for the game in general, it did have an adverse effect on the Dons’ chances in Europe next season.
With the one Europa League slot now definitely going to the Cup winners, or if they lose in that competition, a guarantee of group stage football in the new Conference League, Aberdeen face an uphill task if they’re to finally once again make any kind of impact away from the domestic game.
It also means they have missed out on a potential cash windfall of around
The Dons will have to negotiate four rounds if they are to go beyond the knockout part of the third European competition, another hangover from
the woeful campaign which has cost the club so dearly.
If Stephen Glass can do that with what will essentially be a new squad, it will be a remarkable achievement.