Boss Stephen Glass has challenged Aberdeen to go into the winter break on a high by rocketing back up the Premiership table.
Bottom six Aberdeen have eight games until the Premiership goes into a 20 day deep freeze for the winter shutdown on January 3.
Having secured just two wins in the last 15 games in all competitions the Reds have struggled to live up to pre-season expectation.
Following back to back losses to Dundee United and Motherwell the Dons have dropped to eighth spot in the Premiership table.
With the congested festive period looming Glass has demanded his side rack up the wins to go into the winter shutdown pushing hard in the top six.
He has challenged the Reds to begin that resurgence away to Celtic on Sunday.
He said: “When we go into the winter break in January we want to be well positioned for the second half of the season.
“We have a block of games until January where we know it is all league business for us.
“A decent number of those are home games.
“There are opportunities for us to pick up points and it’s important we do that.
“We felt that we were building a bit of momentum that got stopped against Motherwell.
“It’s important that we get back on track and start to get points on board.
“If you are not, then other teams are, then you start to slide down the league which is not what we want to do.”
Performances for 90 minutes needed
Glass wants an immediate return to the form shown when Aberdeen secured seven points from what was viewed as a tough triple header against league leaders Rangers (2-2 draw), previously unbeaten Hearts (2-1 win) and Hibs (1-0 win).
Defeating the Edinburgh clubs and drawing with Rangers at Ibrox in a memorable week ended a 10 game run without victory – the club’s worst run since 2010.
That mini revival was short-lived however as the Dons have lost their last two games against Dundee United (1-0) and Motherwell (2-0).
In both those games Aberdeen switched off defensively and were punished by conceding.
Glass wants full concentration in every game to deliver wins in the eight game Premiership run-in before the winter shutdown.
He said: “We need to start replicating those performances and making them 90 to 95 minute performances as well.
“You don’t get anything for 45 minute performances and we can’t give teams lifelines.
“We didn’t do it for a week in three games and saw what happened with that.
“We have seen the flipside since then and we certainly know which one feels better.”
Bates and MacKenzie to return
Glass expects a defensive injury crisis to alleviate slightly for Sunday’s trip to Celtic.
Scotland international David Bates, 24, is set to return having missed the loss at Dundee United due to illness.
Left-back Jack MacKenzie, 21, returned for the derby at Tannadice having recovered from an ankle injury which had ruled him out of the previous four games.
However MacKenzie was substituted at half-time against Dundee United with a recurrence of the ankle injury.
Glass is confident MacKenzie will recover to be available for selection at Parkhead.
However defenders Calvin Ramsay (thigh) and Declan Gallagher (hamstring) are both set to miss the Parkhead match.
Scotland international centre-backs Andy Considine (cruciate ligament) and Mikey Devlin (ankle) are both unavailable and are long term injury absentees.
Funso Ojo suspended for Celtic clash
Glass will welcome back Scotland international Lewis Ferguson for the Celtic game having served a one game suspension.
Midfielder Funso Ojo is, however, suspended for the Celtic match following a controversial red card against Dundee United.
The 30-year-old was shown a second yellow by referee Bobby Madden following an incident involving a fan in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat.
Rules state yellow cards can only be overturned in cases of simulation or mistaken identity and it is understood SFA chiefs do not think there is a way around the regulations.
Glass wants an immediate response from his team after the derby defeat at Tannadice.
He said: “Celtic will have a huge backing and it’s always good going there if you put on a bit of a show.
“That’s the aim and what we are working towards.”