Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes he has assembled a superior playing squad this season compared to the Dons team that finished second and reached two cup finals last term.
The Dons supporters feared the worst when the club’s two standout players in recent years, Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn, left at the end of last season for new challenges at Celtic and South Korean side Gwangju respectively.
Club captain Ryan Jack, Peter Pawlett and Ash Taylor also left the Dons, prompting Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha to claim Aberdeen had reached the end of a cycle that had seen them finish second place in the top flight three years on the trot.
But McInnes is confident the new signings he has made during his busiest transfer window since taking over at the club in 2013 have made the Aberdeen squad stronger than ever.
Greg Tansey, Nicky Maynard, Gary Mackay-Steven and Kari Arnason were all recruited before McInnes spent the last of his budget last week in bringing long-term target Stevie May from Preston to Pittodrie in a £400,000 move.
Celtic’s Ryan Christie and Birmingham’s Greg Stewart have also penned season-long loan deals to further strengthen the playing pool.
McInnes, whose Reds will look to continue their perfect start to the Scottish Premiership campaign at home to Dundee on Saturday, is content with his summer recruitment drive and thanked the Aberdeen board for buying into his vision for the new-look squad.
He said: “We were quite strategic with what we wanted to do and I feel we have used the Hayes transfer money (£1.3million from Celtic) wisely.
“We have managed to reinvest that in putting some players like Joe Lewis and Shay Logan on longer-term contracts.
“The money has also been used to get players in, including paying fees for Gary Mackay-Steven and now Stevie May.
“I think from where we were a few weeks ago with some important players leaving giving us spaces to fill the void we have to be pleased with what we have done.
“There are a lot of people involved with that and without the board’s assistance then it wouldn’t have been possible, so I’m pleased the board has shown that confidence to rebuild the squad.”
Dons defender Scott McKenna has been linked with a loan move to Livingston.
The 20-year-old made 14 appearances while on loan at Ayr United last term.
Meanwhile, referee Kevin Clancy will take charge of Saturday’s Premiership match against Dundee. It will be the first time he has officiated a match at Pittodrie since Rangers won 3-0 in April.