The hunted becomes the hunter tonight as Aberdeen chase a rapid return to the Scottish Premiership summit with victory against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.
A 2-0 win against the Perth Saints on January 1 moved Derek McInnes’ side to the top of the table, where they remained until Celtic leapfrogged them with a 4-0 win against Motherwell on Wednesday night.
After a 20-day stint in pole position, the Aberdeen manager has challenged his players to seize the opportunity of regaining top spot at the first time of asking.
The Dons dropped two points in their last outing, a 3-3 draw at home against Dundee on Saturday, but a win in Perth this evening would put the pressure back on Ronny Deila’s Celtic ahead of their trip to Dingwall to face Ross County tomorrow.
McInnes said: “We have an opportunity to go back to the top of the league and I think any time that is the case, whether it is deep into January or at the start of the season, we want to take it.
“We are not too obsessed about who is top, but it’s good motivation for any team.
“Last week was a strange game, we have not had to come back from a couple of goals down for a long time.
“It’s easy to be glowing about your team when we are winning 2-0 or 3-0 each week as we have done recently.
“But to see the response to going behind was really refreshing.
“We always want to get all three points but it was great to see the desire to get something from the game.
“We only ran out of time but the determination not to accept taking nothing from the game was clear to see.”
Aberdeen’s last match at McDiarmid Park ended in disappointment when a late goal from Steven MacLean earned Tommy Wright’s men victory in August.
McInnes, who began his managerial career at St Johnstone, expects the hosts to have a point to prove following Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat against Caley Thistle.
He added: “The games against St Johnstone are always competitive. We didn’t do ourselves justice in the last game down there, but there was nothing between the sides.
“They got the goal and the three points but it was probably one of the few games where we were disappointed in the performance.
“The majority of the time we have been pleased, especially recently, and if we can get anywhere close to our best we will have a chance of winning the game.
“St Johnstone playing on Tuesday probably wasn’t ideal for them and it might be an advantage we didn’t have a game.
“But it doesn’t always work out that way. Knowing the St Johnstone side as I do, they are competitive and it is always a difficult game.
“We always expect a tough match but can’t dictate how they are going to play. We will concentrate on ourselves.
“Their manager Tommy Wright wasn’t happy but performances like that have been few and far between and I am sure there will be a reaction.”