It was a frustrating start to 2021 for the Dons, the goalless draw with Dundee United summing up much of the season so far.
The result, coupled with Hibernian’s latest loss, strengthened their position in the table; it was a fourth clean sheet in five games; and the seven-match unbeaten run Aberdeen are currently on is their best sequence of the campaign so far.
And yet… somehow, it all still feels just a little unsatisfactory.
The big problem is at the top end of the pitch.
Twenty games into the Premiership, the Dons have failed to score in six, while five others have produced a single goal, and the team has rarely been able to play the kind of exciting football they are certainly capable of.
Ryan Hedges has been the exception, along with Andy Considine, Lewis Ferguson and Ross McCrorie he has been among the side’s top performers, but too many others have failed to find any level of consistency.
Defensively the Dons have been absolutely fine, with more than half the goals conceded coming in three matches against Motherwell, Celtic and Rangers, but the manager is still trying to solve the problem up front.
He wasn’t helped by Sam Cosgrove’s delayed start to the campaign, and the big striker has yet to get up and running. He has managed just three goals, as has Curtis Main, while Ryan Edmondson, albeit with limited opportunities, has scored in just one match.
Derek McInnes has to get at least one of those firing again if the second half of the season is to be brighter and more exciting than the first.
He will have the option of utilising Bruce Anderson, who has returned from his loan spell with Ayr United, but that was less than spectacular, his only goals coming in a Betfred Cup tie against Albion Rovers, and he is hardly likely to be bursting with confidence and ready to lead the line for Aberdeen in the Premiership.
Derek would have likely wanted to go into the transfer market to secure a striker, but the difficulties of finding a consistent marksman in the January window are well known.
Eamonn Brophy has been linked with the Dons in the past, but he has only scored three times in 20-21, and has never been a regular scorer.
The fact that he has agreed a sideways move from Kilmarnock to St Mirren probably tells us all we need to know.
The obvious target would be Ross Stewart, a player the manager admires, and one he has in the past attempted to get on board.
Ross has netted half a dozen times for County this season, but five of those have been penalties, and, while he has many attributes, he is another who has yet to prove he is capable of even getting into double figures in a top-flight campaign.
In fact, in a season-and-a-half in the Premiership, he has a total of just nine league goals.
Given the financial constraints on the club brought about by the Covid crisis, the manager’s ability to bring anyone in may well depend on getting someone out first, and that in itself will be no easy exercise given the current climate.
Shameful scenes of Celtic out in Dubai
With their bid for a record-breaking “10 in a row” crumbling around them, Celtic’s decision to jet off for a mid-season break in the Dubai sunshine was one of the more ill-judged PR exercises of recent years.
If the 19-point chasm between them and Rangers wasn’t bad enough, choosing to fly out during a national Lockdown, when most of their fans will be struggling even to visit their families and loved ones, was mindblowing.
The situation was hardly helped when the first pictures emerged of Neil Lennon and Scott Brown relaxing poolside on sun loungers while drinking pints of lager.
📸 Mid-season training camp: complete ✅🏃♂️
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) January 7, 2021
I know the trip had been arranged some months previously, but surely someone at the club should have tapped into the mood of their support and realised that it wasn’t the most sensible thing to do at this time.
The fans will not forget any time soon, and their anger will only intensify as Rangers close in on what now looks to be an inevitable title success.