HOME, bittersweet home.
It is not a message you will find on the welcome mat at Pittodrie when it is rolled out for Dundee this evening but it one which has still become etched on to the minds of an Aberdeen team which has won just twice in their last 10 home games. Should they fail to arrest that record with a win over the Clydesdale Bank Premier League's bottom side, then the spotlights will offer a rather sinister glare.
Typically, those statistics are open to interpretation and it is also true that Aberdeen have lost just four times at home in that same run. Yet that is the point – fans have not been offered much which will allow them to treat cheerily with their home form. Against a Dundee side that is able to empathise with such disappointment, Aberdeen supporters will expect their side to win and win well.
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That attitude is not shared by Craig Brown, though. The Aberdeen manager's positive spin on the issues surrounding his side is that they are only five points off second place, a gap which he believes they are more than capable of closing.
If they are to make a compelling case tonight then many will look to Niall McGinn, the club's top scorer this season. The goals have dried up for the Northern Irishman of late – he has scored just once in his last six starts – although it was always likely that the burden of leading the line would start to tell if he was not given able support from his fellow forwards. Scott Vernon and Rory Fallon have both been tried but neither appear to have impressed Brown.
"We feel a bit of pressure going into the home games because the results or the consistency has not been what we wanted," said McGinn. "I think the form has been all right. People are saying there is pressure on my shoulders, but I don't see it like that. I think there is pressure on everyone's shoulders; we all go out hoping to do well.
"I managed to get a hat trick the last time we played Dundee and it was nice to get the first one of my career. It would be nice to do it again but getting the three points is the main priority."
McGinn acknowledged that tonight's fixture was significant to both sides, then, and was quick to stress that his side would not allow their performance to reflect the stature of their opponents. Indeed the striker felt that past failures should act as a spur to help his side kick on back up the league table.
"There have been certain instances that have had a big impact on our season," he said. "I missed a penalty against Hibs and Scott Vernon missed one against them in the Scottish Cup. Those are moments that can make a big difference in your season. We are still in there. It just shows you teams are not too far ahead of us and we have three out of the next four at home.
"We know we can't keep picking up draws if we want to achieve it, though. It's got to be wins and it doesn't matter if we need to win ugly – it is about getting some consistency, especially at home."
There is a similar bullishness to Dundee, and Brian Easton is intent on making tonight's hosts work for the points. The Dundee full-back have tried to play their way out of the relegation place but it seems that their attitude has changed and they are willing to trade style in for substance.
"It's not a pitch to be playing attractive football but it's a game where we are going to have to go in, ready to fight for our lives," he said. "It might work to our advantage. It is going to turn into a battle and it's really about who wants it more. We really need to want it more."