Embracing the tag of underdogs is a well-worn motivational tool.
Creating a siege mentality, using the odds being stacked against as a way of galvanising a group of people to achieve the unthinkable, is a technique that goes beyond the world of sport.
Aberdeen have certainly had instances of that in their history. Few would have given them a hope of beating Real Madrid in 1983, but they did it. Few would have expected them to finally end their cup-final hoodoo against Rangers in 1990, but they did it. Celtic needed to be overcome at the end of last season to seal a fourth consecutive second spot at Parkhead. You get the theme.
Sunday’s game is another where few outwith Pittodrie would give the Dons much of a chance, particularly given Celtic’s recent form. But when backs are against the wall, the true characters will emerge.
Manager Derek McInnes said: “I think you always look for any motivation. But the motivation to win trophies at Aberdeen has always been there.
“When I look back to the first final, when we won in my first year, that was a trophy that we just had to win. The weight of expectation was on everybody, especially myself, for that one.
“I still feel the weight of expectation, even though it’s our fourth final in a short period of time. So the opportunity to get into finals, I’m proud that different squads I’ve had have managed to get the club into this position.
“I’m proud of the current team, putting themselves in a position for this one. The motivation for an Aberdeen player or manager should always be to win trophies. That’s exactly where we are.
“We don’t expect to be the favourites against the Old Firm, especially cup finals in Glasgow. But we know we can deliver. We’re playing against a bigger squad, a better squad, a bigger club in Celtic.
“But we can deliver a bigger performance on the day – and win the trophy.”
The Dons‘ route to the final would certainly indicate they have done it the hard way. St Mirren were swatted aside in the first knockout round but then Hibernian had to be overcome on penalties at Easter Road, before Lewis Ferguson‘s late goal saw off Rangers and earned the Dons their fourth final spot in four-and-a-half years.
McInnes added: “It is getting harder to win a trophy. When you look back through the years, recent years, if we go and win this, we’ll have beaten four Premiership teams.
“We’ll have beaten Rangers and Celtic in Glasgow – and Hibs at Easter Road. I don’t think there will be many teams who have endured those types of games to win a trophy.
“If we’re going to do it, we’ll have done it the hard way. The players have overcome a lot of challenges, they’re a new squad, a lot of young players.
“If we can go and win a trophy quite early on in these players’ careers, it only sets them up for later on. It’s an opportunity. One we’re grateful for. One we’ve earned. Hopefully we can go “We’re not just coming here to fulfil a fixture. A lot of people might see it that way – but we certainly don’t.”