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Only double exposure can put team truly in the picture

Mark Reynolds made no move to touch wood or cross his fingers as he analysed the position in which he and his Aberdeen team-mates find themselves as the season builds towards its grand finale, the William Hill Scottish Cup final, in little more than a month's time.

Mark Reynolds: "There is a fine line between swagger and arrogance.  You have to kind of watch that."  Picture: SNS
Mark Reynolds: "There is a fine line between swagger and arrogance. You have to kind of watch that." Picture: SNS

Like the other Pittodrie players already in place when Derek McInnes took charge a year ago, the centre-back was accustomed to spending his periodic media interviews searching for excuses for failures under previous regimes such as finishing in the bottom six of the league and exiting cup competitions against opposition considered inferior.

Under McInnes, though, they sit second in the SPFL Premiership table, have the League Cup already in the trophy cabinet and are expected to beat St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup semi-finals at Ibrox tomorrow.

McInnes, always a "one-game-at-a-time" type of manager - it is a mantra he has drummed into to his squad for the media's weekly feeding sessions - appears to have lifted such restrictions on his players.

And why not? After all, St Johnstone have never beaten Aberdeen in a cup competition, nor have they scored against them this season. And wasn't the 4-0 drubbing delivered in the League Cup semi-final at the start of February decidedly one-sided?

"There is a fine line between swagger and arrogance," Reynolds said. "You have to kind of watch that, because people are quite keen to use your swagger to trip you up. There are plenty who would be willing to say Aberdeen are becoming cocky or getting ahead of themselves.

"But I think it's easier for us to be confident now with the history we've got behind us this season. We've built on success and, thankfully, managed not to fall flat on our faces. A lot of people were waiting for that to happen.

"When you have a blip after five or six games, people are quick to point it out and say this could be Aberdeen's bubble bursting. But when you've gone 25 or 30 games playing consistently well, that bad result is easier to brush off, and thankfully, that's what we've managed to do."

The ensemble McInnes has assembled may not stand accused of being brainwashed by the manager or Tony Docherty, his assistant, but there is clearly the feelings that everyone must sing from the same hymn sheet.

Reynolds, a stellar performer alongside Russell Anderson in a defence that has conceded only 30 goals in 33 SPFL fixtures, would probably not demur from such a claim.

"The dressing room helps to keep us grounded," he said. "We don't have guys in there who will cause problems or have the wrong attitude. The main attribute is that we have a team full of winners. We compete at everything; training every day, stuff away from the ground.

"Everything is competitive and everyone wants to win purely for the sake of winning. When you have a lot of guys like that, the attitude breeds within the team. Younger guys learn from it and want to step up.

"The manager needs to be complimented for bringing in that kind of player and for the way he makes his players carry themselves, on and off the field."

Only twice before have Aberdeen completed a cup double - in 1986 and 1990 - and the former Motherwell defender is aware that their rejuvenated support, 18,000 of whom will be at Ibrox tomorrow, expect it this season to yield a third.

"Everyone knows this club is steeped in history," Reynolds added. "The walls are covered with pictures from a great past. It's been an imposing sight for Aberdeen teams coming in here and trying to live up to it.

"But it has always been something this current team has aspired to. It's what you want to do, get your pictures hanging on the walls.

"We've done that with the League Cup, enjoyed that success, but Aberdeen is a very, very successful club. They've won European trophies, won cup doubles before. To be up there with the better teams, we need to try to win this other trophy as well."

Such a pronouncement may not amount to arrogance or even swagger. It might, however, be interpreted as a warning to Aberdeen's opponents tomorrow.

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