A new era may have dawned at Pittodrie but it was the old guard who stood and delivered for Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass.
Going out of the Scottish Cup in his first game in charge would not have been a disaster but had Livingston emerged victorious on Saturday, it would have been a somewhat sputtering start for this regime.
But in coming from behind twice, this Aberdeen side showed resilience and no shortage of intensity to drag themselves to a penalty shootout against Livi. Triumphing 5-3 on penalties was probably deserved over the course of the game.
Their key moments of quality came courtesy of Niall McGinn and Jonny Hayes, two stalwarts of Derek McInnes’ tenure and their old manager was watching from the other side of Pittodrie, this time as a pundit for Premier Sports.
Hayes’ cross picked out McGinn to crash home from 12 yards with 15 minutes to go, with Aberdeen having trailed through Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ opener.
When Emmanuel-Thomas scored again in extra-time the Dons could easily have been floored. However the rally was instant, with McGinn this time turning provider for Florian Kamberi to open his account for the club.
The penalties were accomplished and while the performance was not always, Glass has plenty of reasons for encouragement.
“I knew they had a mental toughness about them because I have seen the games, but today reinforced it,” he said. “That says a lot about them as a group and says a lot about the former manager.
“The fact we came back twice against a good, strong Livingston team, I’m delighted for the group of players in there. When you are a goal down in extra time you are always anxious but we showed a belief.
“I felt we were in control but there were a couple of scary moments. The players put trust in us at half-time, we asked them not to panic and in the second half you saw a group of players who believed it.
“The players showed what it means to them, they showed energy, trust and belief in the structure so I’m just pleased they got their rewards.”
Emmanuel-Thomas was the menace Aberdeen struggled to deal with during the 120 minutes, giving a superb all-round forward display. His opener came after he profited from Hayes’ hesitance, cutting in-field and exchanging passes with Scott Pittman before slotting past Gary Woods.
The Dons replacement stopper had not touched the ball prior to picking it out of the net, having come on minutes earlier after skipper Joe Lewis went off following an accident collision with Jon Guthrie.
Fraser Hornby’s snap-shot, comfortably dealt with by Max Stryjek, was the only opportunity of a frustrating first half for the home side.
His replacement on the hour, with Callum Hendry on in his place, suited Aberdeen far better and they looked a more enterprising unit.
A counter-attack delivered their equaliser, with Hayes able to break forward from his left-back berth and cross for McGinn. The Northern Ireland international had plenty to do when he took possession of the ball, however he dispatched his finish into the top corner with aplomb.
The introduction of Kamberi, playing off the left side, seemed to make a difference to, with a more energised and influential player than the one who was substituted against St Johnstone last week.
Aberdeen found themselves behind again three minutes into extra-time, with referee Colin Steven deeming Dean Campbell’s challenge on Emmanuel-Thomas enough to warrant a penalty. The striker’s long, labouring run-up mattered little as he rolled the penalty home.
The blow had little time to register on the Dons’ radar, though, with McGinn’s pin-point pass towards the six-yard box turned home by a sliding Kamberi.
“Flo was excellent and we didn’t put him on as a centre-forward as he played off the side a little bit,” said Glass. “It wasn’t a case of just throwing on like for like as we changed it a wee bit, to try to get the best out of Flo, be a threat to them and to be fair I think Flo’s performance was brilliant.
“Considering he came off at half time last week it is very easy to start sulking for any player. But he showed a determination to be a big part of the group and he certainly did that today.”
Aberdeen looked the team more likely to win it. Hayes was gallivanting forward the way he used to and Ross McCrorie, playing at right-back, did not cease his attacking intent even deep into extra-time.
The shoot-out could have provided a moment to savour or forget. For Glass and Aberdeen, it proved to be the former.
The Dons were perfect from the spot, with Lewis Ferguson, Kamberi, Hendry, Dean Campbell and McCrorie all netting, with Jason Holt’s missed effort coming back off the crossbar.
A home tie with Dundee United awaits in the last eight, with Hampden edging closer.
“For the whole group, ourselves and the staff it has been an emotional week and it takes its toll,” Glass added. “You can see there was an energy output and what you were seeing is that it took its toll more.
“That was the emotional part of the week and we also got the game moved a day earlier. That changed our planning a little bit but the trust the players put in us and the belief in the structure we are trying to implement, I think it showed.
“Obviously there is a lot of work to be done. But when you have a group of players who show that determination it is a great place to come in and work.”