DEREK McInnes understands why the pundits make Kilmarnock favourites to edge their way past Aberdeen to reach the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Motherwell, but he rejects the idea that his team’s quarter-final replay at Kilmarnock tonight is season-defining.

The transformation of Kilmarnock under Steve Clarke was underlined by their battling 1-1 draw against tonight’s opponents 10 days ago when that semi-final place was first up for grabs.

But the Aberdeen manager refuses to accept that his season will effectively end should his side fail tonight and insists that, despite sitting five points behind second-placed Rangers and 14 adrift of leaders Celtic in the Premiership, all is not lost.

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“There is still a lot to play for in the league,” he said. “But I would say the perception from having a good season or a very good season is normally demonstrated through the cups. This would be our sixth semi-final in five years if we could get through.

“Sometimes when we have finished second in the league and haven’t reached a cup final it hasn’t had the same perception as other seasons because the cups offer so much. It can be the difference between us being very successful or not. It gives us momentum as a club and we could all be doing with that at the minute, that feel-good factor that comes with winning games.

“If we can get to the semi-final it could help our league form and help us to keep that focus. Whether it can be called season-defining, that is a bit of a stretch although I understand the question.”

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McInnes recognises, though, that Kilmarnock’s home form since Clarke’s arrival has improved dramatically and that despite his side’s exceptional record at Rugby Park in recent years, it will be a tougher proposition tonight.

Two defeats and two draws in their last four games, will signal to Clarke and his squad that the visitors are as vulnerable as they have been this season with a real difficulty in scoring goals having hit just one – scored by Graeme Shinnie against tonight’s opponents in the original quarter-final tie – in that time.

“It is just about getting the job done,” McInnes said. “We are up against a very good team, who are in real good form. It is the first Kilmarnock team for as long as I can remember who have been really strong at home. They have managed to address that and I don’t think you can have a successful campaign unless you enjoy playing at home and you get home results.

“There is a real feel-good factor about them and there is a huge improvement from where they have been. We set out in the competition to win and nothing has changed. It is an opportunity for us to be as good as we can be and we will need to get somewhere close to what we are capable of to get the job done.”

Kenny McLean, called into the Scotland squad for the forthcoming friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary, has made it his aim to reach the final before he departs in the summer. The midfielder signed for Norwich City in January but was allowed to remain at Aberdeen on loan.

He said: “Everyone wants the last game of the season to be cup final and I’m no different. For it to be my last game would be special and that’s what we are all striving for.”