Derek McInnes feels the experience of regularly making semi-finals will stand his side in good stead against Rangers.
The two sides contest their Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Sunday, with McInnes’ side making the final in 2016 and winning the competition in 2014.
They have reached the last four of the Scottish Cup in the last two seasons, with the core of the squad from those runs still intact at Pittodrie. Rangers’ last major trophy came in 2011 with the Scottish Cup, although they did make the final of the competition five years later.
McInnes said: “I’m hoping, whether it’s losing semi finals or winning them, you gain experience from it. The contrast is huge in how it makes you feel. We have enough players in the squad with experience of big games, cup finals and in Europe and games we’ve had to win with the current squad, it’s clear we’re still searching to find a way to our best performances, but we dealt brilliantly with the two Burnley games and going to Easter Road against a very strong Hibs team.
“There have been bumps on the road and disappointments too but you’re learning about your team all the time and those experienced ones have a role to play, especially on Sunday at Hampden.
“We’re well used to going there and familiar with the surroundings and hopefully all that can maybe help but ultimately it will come down to performance, quality moments or mistakes, concentration and we’ve got to make sure we’re very focused and keep mistakes to a minimum in key areas and produce those moments of quality I know are in my squad.”
Scott McKenna returns for the Dons after serving a two-game ban and will be keen for a run of games after a stop-start beginning to the season.
McInnes added: “We’ve been without him for the majority of the season. While we coped without him against St Mirren comfortably enough, here we could have been doing with him at Hearts and there’s no doubt we could be doing with him on Thursday and he’ll be back in his normal place, which is great for us as he has quickly become an important player.
“A lot of youngsters can come into the team and hit the high and be unpredictable and inconsistent, but his level of performance has been so consistent. He’s not only an important player for me but also the national team.
“I’ve no idea who he’ll be up against and to be honest you always try and second guess the opposition, we all do it. You’ve got to try and plan for that. Rangers have ben pretty consistent with their shape and they have options, not maybe obvious ones, who can play there as they have two out and out strikers who play there all the time, especially Morelos.
“Good teams – and Rangers are a good team – learn to cope with injuries and suspensions and hopefully we concentrate more on our own performance and getting our own team playing at a level that gives us a chance to get into the final.”