Brian Irvine feels Aberdeen must look to pile the pressure on second-placed Celtic in pursuit of a Champions League place.
The Dons are five points adrift of the Hoops, albeit having played a game less, ahead of tomorrow’s game against bottom-placed Ross County at Victoria Park.
Celtic’s domestic form has been patchy in recent weeks, with Neil Lennon’s men winning just five of their last 11 league matches.
With the third-placed Reds two points clear of nearest challengers Hibernian with two games in hand, former Dons defender Irvine feels Derek McInnes’ men should only be looking up the table in a bid to finish the best of the rest behind Rangers.
Irvine said: “At this moment Aberdeen are pushing Celtic as they have done in previous seasons. It’s not to win the league this time, it’s to get second.
“It’s well within Aberdeen’s scope at the moment, they should be looking to catch Celtic. There is of course a Champions League place up for grabs for second place.
“They will not be able to compete with Rangers’ form, which nobody can just now.
“Their form has been unbelievable but along with Celtic, Aberdeen are the best of the rest.
“In the second half of the season they are well capable of pushing Celtic, who they still have to play three times.
“Whether it’s the manager or the players, they should all be thinking they need to go for that now.”
The Dons have won both encounters with County this season, including a 3-0 victory on their last visit to Dingwall in September.
Despite the Staggies being bottom of the league, Irvine believes recently-appointed manager John Hughes will provide a stiffer challenge to the Pittodrie side.
Irvine added: “I was really impressed with Aberdeen the last time I saw them in Dingwall.
“That convinced me Aberdeen were going to be a force this season, and that has been the case.
“When I was comparing it to previous seasons it was not as if they had been poor before, but for me it was the best Aberdeen team I had seen in recent times. I would still stick by that.
“Throughout the team there is real strength there. They haven’t managed to break the Rangers and Celtic domination, but they are closer to Celtic than they maybe thought.
“The impression I got that Aberdeen are a strong team has proven to be the case and credit to Derek McInnes for the way he has built the team.
“Aberdeen will need to put in a performance like that to get a result, because County will be a more difficult opponent than they were at the start of the season.
“It’s going to take a good Aberdeen performance to get a result.”
The Dons had been due to face Livingston on Wednesday, only for the match to suffer a late postponement due to a waterlogged pitch.
That brought back memories of a late call-off during Irvine’s own playing career, and he insists the Reds could have done without the disruption.
He added: “I had a January game against Rangers when we were halfway through doing the warm-up at Ibrox. The heavy rain kept coming down and eventually it got called off 20 minutes before kick-off.
“It won’t help Aberdeen’s preparations because they were down there, so they won’t have got a proper week’s training for Ross County on Saturday.
“This was potentially a big week for Aberdeen after losing against Rangers. They would have looked to get six points from Livingston and Ross County games, but that opportunity has been taken away.
“It’s a lose-lose without them kicking a ball.”