Aberdeen captain Joe Lewis believes the Reds will get sharper the longer their Europa League qualification bid continues.
The Dons face Georgian outfit Chikhura Sachkhere in the second leg of their second qualifying round tie at Pittodrie on Thursday, with the Dons in the driving seat having returned from Tbilisi with a 1-1 draw.
Having already defeated Finnish side RoPS earlier in the competition, goalkeeper Lewis feels Derek McInnes’ men can get momentum on their side ahead of a potential third qualifying round tie against HNK Rijeka of Croatia.
Lewis said: “Last year was tough as we went in to the second round and got Burnley. We nearly got through and it was tough to take. As much as you like to make the later rounds, sometimes the first qualifier gives you the chance to get some momentum and brushes off the cobwebs.
“Against RoPS we could have scored a few more goals and we were a bit untidy and if we were playing stronger opposition we would have been punished for mistakes.
“We are getting to the stage now where those mistakes will cost you and we have to make sure we are neat and tidy with our work.”
Sam Cosgrove’s penalty, which cancelled out Giorgi Koripadze’s spot-kick opener for Chikhura, gives the Dons a major advantage ahead of this week’s home leg, however Lewis hopes his side does not have to rely on the away goal.
The 31-year-old added: “It is my fourth season in Europe with Aberdeen and we have been on the wrong end of the away goal rule. We know how important it can be.
“Hopefully we don’t need it and we can win the game outright but it is nice to have that security there. If it finishes 0-0 we will be through. We deserved something from last week as we controlled the game and conceded a soft penalty. We did well to come back from that.”
Lewis, who joined the Reds in 2016 after leaving Cardiff City, feels his side can draw upon plenty European experience as they bid to move a step closer to reaching the lucrative Europa League group stage.
He added: “It is four rounds and eight games to play just to reach the group stages and the games get harder every round. You need a bit of luck in the draw but we feel we are more than capable of making the next round against Rijeka.
“We want to go as far as we can in Europe this year and getting to the group stage would be huge, but it is one step at a time.
“It is down to the lads who have played in European games to give your experience to the new boys. We have had a few boys who played in England and have never played in Europe and it is different.
“It is different styles and atmospheres and even referees. In Europe they aren’t like in Scotland. Some things you think aren’t fouls are given and you get bookings in European games.”