Aberdeen suffered a humbling 3-0 defeat in the Scottish Cup semi-final as a Curtis Main-inspired Motherwell took a step closer to the trophy.
Main found the back of the net twice and was the best player on the park, leading the Motherwell charge alongside Ryan Bowman, who netted the other goal.
Derek McInnes’ side offered very little in the way of a goal threat and were compounded by a poor defensive display, with little argument who deserved to be in next month’s Hampden showpiece.
The attention for the Dons must now switch to securing second spot, as this hugely disappointing performance cannot be allowed to undermine the rest of their league campaign.
McInnes started both Adam Rooney and Stevie May up front, with Chidi Nwakali and Dominic Ball also in the 11. Stephen Robinson replaced Barry Maguire and Carl McHugh with Chris Cadden and Andy Rose from the 0-0 draw with St Johnstone.
The game was likely to be won and lost in the middle of the park, with the Dons lacking Graeme Shinnie’s drive and Kenny McLean’s creativity, and the influential Carl McHugh also banned for ‘Well.
Anthony O’Connor sat behind Nwakali and Ryan Christie, with Rooney drifting in from the left flank to support May.
After an attritional opening 20 minutes, the Dons were undone far too simply with two quick-fire goals.
A long ball caught out Ball in his battle with Richard Tait, with the Dons defender stalling to appeal for a handball. Play was allowed to go on and Tait squared for Main to tap-in.
Just when Aberdeen needed time to compose themselves, they were two behind. Scott McKenna, captain for the day, skewed a clearance backwards that Bowman latched on to. He prodded his first shot straight at Joe Lewis but he scraped the rebound home.
It required a monumental comeback here from the Dons but in the remainder of the first half, there seemed no signs of such a recovery. Ryan Christie was starved of possession, May and Rooney were left chasing balls over the top and the Motherwell front two were dominating the physical battle.
Aberdeen’s best outlet was Greg Stewart cutting inside from the right flank but even he was getting frustrated at the lack of options available in front of him.
The introduction of Gary Mackay-Steven for the injured Nwakali two minutes before the break provided more invention than Aberdeen had for the rest of the half. He dragged the ball in from the left flank and drove at the ‘Well defence before sliding in May, who should have done better than scuffing wide.
McInnes introduced Niall McGinn with 30 minutes to go and his impact was instantaneous, teeing up Rooney to blast at Carson which the goalkeeper did well to repel.
But the destructive Main struck again with 66 minutes on the clock, blocking Arnason’s attempted clearance then outmuscling the Icelandic defender to race clear. Facing up against Lewis, the former Middlesbrough and Portsmouth striker kept his call to lift the ball into the net.
The game was up for the Dons, with a lash over the top from McGinn the closest they came to getting anything from a hugely disappointing afternoon.