The act of surrendering to a place in the bottom six of the Scottish Premier League made for an unflattering image but one which had been enduring given the distortion of the club's ambition. The appointment of Derek McInnes as manager would allow for a sharper focus in the final weeks of the campaign, although even the sight of Aberdeen learning to walk again might have given pause at a club which once ran amok.
Looking back can be an uncomfortable practice at Pittodrie and fans been inclined to do it so often that some have developed a crick in their necks, a celebrated history having become a point of reference for the club's decline. The scale of that night in Europe will always seem likely to overshadow more contemporary achievements, although a win at Easter Road on Saturday did suggest that Aberdeen are looking much more like their old selves, if not quite those of the 1980s. The greater clamour was to follow the revival of Scott Vernon - a striker of modest value last term and now the club's top scorer - but there were more persistent whispers about his team's resolve and the way in which they were able to affect Hibernian.
That both goals came from substitutes, Vernon and Gregg Wylde, highlighted that McInnes can now call on those on his bench and expect a meaningful reply, with Barry Robson also reintroduced to further competitive action in Edinburgh following injury. The midfielder would contribute to a moment which very nearly felt like a kick in the shins for his side - Robson's long pass back to Jamie Langfield ended with the goalkeeper falling over and James Collins pushing a shot wide - but the Pittodrie side went about the rest of the afternoon with a confident verve. It has grown steadily during a sequence of five wins over the last two months.
Given the small crumbs of comfort which the club have subsisted on of late there is a danger of feasting too greedily on a start to the season which has delivered promise, if nothing more tangible. That sentiment seemed to be endorsed by McInnes when he acknowledged his players had been allowed to celebrate for "five minutes" following the win over Hibs, and a meeting with Motherwell in the quarter-finals of the Scottish League Cup on Wednesday is now a more pressing concern. There is a need to leave an impression on a cup this season since such competitions have often served simply to expose Aberdeen's frailties.
"It's not my place to say [what it was like before], but when this manager came in towards the end of last season he brought in quality players and the fans are turning out which just shows that Aberdeen have done well so far this season," said Wylde. "We need to keep it going. The manager said that when we came here at the end of last season only 200 fans came down, but now we've got over 2000 supporters here. It shows how big Aberdeen are but we can't get carried away with ourselves, there are still big games ahead."
The winger found prominence at Easter Road and his labour in trying to restart a career which had broken down at Bolton Wanderers has given birth to that appreciation of the work still to be done at Pittodrie. Hibs are also now looking to make a new start after their momentum was interrupted, although the Edinburgh club will have to make their way without Michael Nelson for now. The defender has had two metal plates inserted on to his cheekbone having sustained three fractures during the draw with Celtic a week ago.
Lewis Stevenson also looked in some discomfort on Saturday. Defeat can be a constrictive feeling and so the full-back was not forthcoming afterwards, but Hibs' next match will not allow him to sit quietly. Their Edinburgh rivals Hearts will visit on League Cup duty on Wednesday - offering the Easter Road side an opportunity not just to denude themselves of their latest disappointment but also to enjoy some catharsis in adding to the distress of their neighbours. "I don't want to make excuses," Stevenson added. "Aberdeen scored two late goals and that is something which we have to fix."