Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes his Reds are once again feared in Scottish football.
The Dons won 2-1 at Caley Thistle on Saturday to ensure they will finish no lower than second in the Scottish Premiership.
Their hopes of catching Celtic in the title race look forlorn, with the champions eight points clear of Aberdeen with four games remaining but McInnes insists his players should be proud of finishing best of the rest.
Aberdeen’s last league defeat by a side other than Celtic came more than six months ago when the Dons lost 3-0 at Hamilton Accies on October 17. A run of 18 wins and four draws in 22 games has proven an emphatic response from the Reds and McInnes knows his team now commands respect from the rest of the division.
He said: “The coaching staff enjoy watching the team as do the supporters. We’ve got a reputation as a club where no one gets an easy game against us and regardless of which players turn out for Aberdeen the players know they are at a team which is expected to win every week.
“We’ve been in three semi-finals in our four attempts and that’s the sort of consistency we should be striving for. There is a pressure and demand of playing here but we welcome it.”
McInnes is delighted his players have put the agony of losing out on second place last year by virtue of Motherwell’s controversial injury-time winning goal at Pittodrie on the last day of the campaign.
Dons goalkeeper Jamie Langfield was fouled as he went to catch a high ball into the box but the goal was allowed to stand, a decision which ensured the Dons had to settle for third place.
But there will be no end of season drama for second this time around after Aberdeen’s fine run of form.
McInnes is pleased for his players and will no doubt reflect on this campaign with satisfaction at the end of next month and he insists no one is resting on their laurels at Pittodrie.
He said: “Cementing second place is an improvement on last season and is just reward after having it taken away from us due to a decision last year.
“We’re going the right way but we do not want to stand still. There is still much room for improvement.
“We want to be successful and we have a team which can do that again. We’ve had a good season and have improved again but we want to be in cup finals again next year.
“We are working harder than any other club and I feel confident in saying that.”