It has not been a good week for the Dons on or off the park, but only part of the damage was self-inflicted.
The Scottish FA played its part with the Covid shambles which followed the under-21 trip to Greece. It was right chief executive Ian Maxwell apologised, but it did nothing to ease the problems heaped on Derek McInnes and, with three key players needlessly added to a lengthy injury list, it was always likely to be a demanding few days.
The defeat at Ibrox was not unexpected, but nevertheless still a hard one to watch. Even with a full-strength squad to choose from, it was always likely to be a tough 90 minutes, and having to put out a decimated team made it even more of a challenge.
What was more disappointing was the level of performance and the failure of certain players to step up and prove they should be getting more opportunities. All that afternoon at Ibrox did was emphasise the importance to the team of the likes of Lewis Ferguson, Ross McCrorie, Jonny Hayes and Scott Wright.
When everyone is fit and available, Derek McInnes has a strong squad and quite a few decent options. Even when he is missing bodies, the manager should still be able to field a team good enough to win most matches in the Premiership, but that was not the case against Hamilton on Wednesday night.
Having gone ahead and looking totally in control, Aberdeen conceded a poor equaliser and were unable to step it up in the second half. Irrespective of the selection, returning home with a single point from a venue where St Mirren, Ross County and St Johnstone have all won this season simply isn’t acceptable.
Accies got lucky with their goal; it wasn’t a free-kick and Marios Ogkmpoe was offside, but the defending was still poor, and the team was unable to respond in the proper manner. It would have been even worse but for an outstanding save by Joe Lewis in the final minute.
December is a busy month for the club with six Premiership matches, all of which look winnable, but Derek will be hoping his top players are available again for that run. If not, on the evidence of the last two games, there could be more disappointing nights and afternoons ahead.
Before that sequence, the Dons kick-off their Betfred Cup campaign this evening with the first of two successive trips to Paisley.
St Mirren have suddenly put together a six-match unbeaten run, but haven’t beaten Premiership opposition at home since the opening day of the campaign, and, given that they have scored just seven goals in 12 league matches, it is clear that Jim Goodwin puts the emphasis on his defence.
It may be a one-off cup-tie, but that does not mean Saints will go all-out for victory, and it will not be an open football match. The likelihood is that a frustrating encounter lies in store, one in which Aberdeen will have to try to pick their way through a well-organised rearguard, something that does not necessarily suit the team.
I cannot see this being one for the connoisseurs, but that is not the most important thing; tonight is all about winning through and securing a place in the draw for the quarter finals. Failure to do so does not bear thinking about.
Gary Holt’s Livingston departure is a big shock
When the season kicked-off at the start of August, you would have got decent odds on Gary Holt being the first top-flight manager to vacate his position.
He did an excellent job at Almondvale, picking up where David Hopkin left off, and guided Livi to a position which would have seemed highly improbable just a few years ago.
In an interview immediately after last weekend’s home defeat to St Mirren, Gary had expressed doubts as to whether or not he could get his team going again, but even at that, his decision on Thursday to walk away came as a surprise.
It was always going to be tough to emulate last season’s showing, and the results of late have been poor, but there are worse teams in the Premiership, and I would have backed Holt to keep them up.
The appointment of his successor is a big decision for the club and, unless they pick the right man, the rest of the campaign could be quite a struggle.