Aberdeen marked the return of the Red Army to Pittodrie in stunning style with an emphatic 5-1 victory against BK Hacken in the Europa Conference League.
This was the first game played at Pittodrie in front of a meaningful crowd since March last year and it was well worth the wait for the Dons supporters.
Stephen Glass’ side produced a performance of verve and vigour and were 2-0 ahead at the break thanks to an Andrew Considine header and a Lewis Ferguson penalty.
Ferguson, a summer transfer target for Watford, was on target again early in the second half with a fizzing strike from distance to put the Dons firmly in control before Alexander Jeremejeff pulled one back for the Swedes.
But the Dons had the final say with Christian Ramirez marking his debut with a late goal before Connor McLennan completed the rout in injury time on a thoroughly enjoyable night for the returning Aberdeen support.
The sides will meet again next week in Gothenburg – a city that has served the Dons well in the past – and on this showing the Dons can start preparing to face either Austria Wien or Icelandic side Briedablik, who drew 1-1 in their first leg, in the next round of the competition.
A lucky 300 Dons fans watched the Dons face Kilmarnock last September but the 5,665 fans permitted entry to this game helped create a proper atmosphere at Pittodrie for the first time in more than 500 days.
It was also the first chance for the home faithful to see newly-appointed captain Scott Brown in action for the Dons.
The former Celtic captain, no stranger to European football during his time at Parkhead, was one of three new faces in the Dons starting line-up.
There were also starts for Ramirez and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, while Teddy Jenks and Jack Gurr were named on the bench.
Fellow new recruit Declan Gallagher missed out through suspension so Ross McCrorie partnered Andrew Considine in the heart of the Aberdeen defence.
Funso Ojo, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Wigan Athletic, was also handed a starting berth while 17-year-old Calvin Ramsay was given the nod at right back.
BK Hacken’s form has picked up under new boss Per-Mathias Hogmo and they arrived in Aberdeen on the back of three league wins on the spin.
The Swedes were also 11 games into their league campaign making this a stern examination for the Dons in their season-opener.
They created the first game’s chance with Considine forced to make a sliding block to deny Leo Bengtsson with Gustav Berggren’s overhead kick from the resulting corner kick flying over.
After a nervy opening, Aberdeen began to grow into the game with a neat move involving Jonny Hayes and Ramirez culminating in Ferguson firing over.
The Dons were inches away from breaking the deadlock in the 25th minute when Ferguson beat Hacken goalkeeper Peter Abrahamsson but the ball bounced back off the post.
Some superb play from Emmanuel-Thomas released Ojo but the Belgian was thwarted by a fine save from the Hacken stopper with Emmanuel-Thomas’ header from the corner headed off the line by Jeremejeff.
It was only a matter of time before the Dons got the goal their dominance deserved and it duly arrived with Considine left unmarked to head home a Ramsay corner and spark scenes of jubilation among the home support.
The Dons could and probably should have been two ahead with Ojo, Ramirez and Ryan Hedges all having efforts saved by the overworked Abrahamsson.
But they were gifted the perfect opportunity a minute before the break when Bengtsson carelessly tripped Hedges and Ferguson sent the Hacken goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot.
There was no let-up from the Dons after the break and, after the Hacken defence failed to close him down, Ferguson took full advantage and drilled home from 30 yards to extend Aberdeen’s lead.
It looked like the tie was almost over but the Swedes had other ideas and reduced the deficit through Jeremejeff’s smart finish just before the hour mark.
Aberdeen were still looking threatening at the other end with Ramirez unfortunate to see his lobbed attempt land the wrong side of the post.
The American international finally got his goal six minutes from time when he was in the right place to bundle home a driven cross by substitute Jack Mackenzie.
And it got even better for the Dons in injury time when Connor McLennan’s effort looped over Abrahamsson to the delight of the home fans.