Reality bit hard for the Dons as St Johstone completed a dramatic smash-and-grab to claim all three points at Pittodrie.
Aberdeen’s lack of cutting edge was punished by a ruthless Saints as the Perth men soaked up waves of pressure from the home side before hitting them with a two sucker punches in three second-half minutes to secure victory.
Following two huge games against Celtic and Rangers in the space of four days, it was perhaps not a surprise to see the Dons come slowly out of the traps against Tommy Wright’s side.
But even when they did get going their lack of goal threat was telling.
The visitors should have done better with their early chance to open the scoring when Scott Tanser’s cross found the unmarked Ross Callachan but the attacker headed wide of goal.
It was a sluggish start from the Dons and Saints were in the mood to take advantage in an impressive opening but the home side broke away to create a chance of their own when Scott Wright played Stevie May in on goal but the striker’s low drive went just past the post.
Aberdeen came to life after their early chance and they had several set-piece chances. But they failed to make them count and Saints nearly punished them when Richard Foster’s ball over the top sent Matty Kennedy clear down the right but Joe Lewis turned his dipping half-volley past the post.
That was as close as Saints would come to the Aberdeen goal in the first half as the remaining 25 minutes were played almost entirely in the Perth men’s half.
Aberdeen dominated possession but in the final third they lacked the quality to test Clark, who watched cross after cross fizz across his goal with no takers.
The Saints goalkeeper was called into action for the first time just before the break, punching away Scott McKenna’s header from a Stevie May corner and that was as close as it got to a breakthrough for the men in red.
The visitors had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down at the start of the second half after Callachan went down in the box under a challenge from Shay Logan but referee Don Robertson deemed the tackle a fair one and awarded a corner. Saints boss Tommy Wright was unhappy with the decision, as was Callachan.
Connor McLennan fired over twice from the edge of the box before Lewis Ferguson saw his low curling effort from 22 yards parried by Clark but no Aberdeen player was able to capitalise. With no goal coming Niall McGinn and Bruce Anderson were sent on in the hope of finding a breakthrough for the final half-hour but it was the visitors who got the all-important opener with 20 minutes remaining as former Aberdeen defender Joe Shaughnessy rose highest at the back post to head home a corner.
It went from bad to worse for the shellshocked Dons as Saints doubled their lead three minutes later when Blair Alston drove past Dom Ball before beating Lewis with a superb lob.
The Dons have an early chance to make amends when Livingston visit tomorrow.