MARK Reynolds believes Aberdeen are ready to shrug off yet another European disappointment and again prove to be Celtic's biggest challengers on all fronts as they kick off their Premiership campaign today against Hamilton Accies.

Aberdeen suffered more Europa League heartache as they crashed out on a controversial night in Cyprus at the third qualifying round for the fourth year in a row. A lifeless 2-0 defeat was marred by Dons fans being involved in running battles with the riot police after the game and the home supporters nearly forcing the match to be abandoned due to letting off flares, firecrackers and smoke bombs.

Despite that setback to Apollon Limassol, Reynolds is convinced Aberdeen will still be the best of the rest as they prepare to face Martin Canning's side today at Pittodrie and look to beat last season's record of 76 points.

He said: "We still regard ourselves as Celtic’s biggest challengers. We will go into the league feeling confident. We’ve lost a few players, but I think we have shown in these European games that we have recruited well and we are a good team again who will cause problems for clubs.

"We'll keep trying to build, just as we have over the last three or four years. You always look to improve and although you can’t say how it’s shaping up until later in the season we will be giving it our best.

"This team is as strong as it has been for a few years and the new players are gelling well. We are a bit different without Jonny [Hayes] and Niall [McGinn] but with Greg Stewart and Ryan Christie we have something different and they are match-winners too.

"We are feeling confident and the European games have always stood us in good stead going into the league campaign. Sometimes when you are going into friendlies and even the League cup games they are still not top games against the type of opposition we have been playing.

"If you are talking about trying to beat that points tally we will need to win as many games as we can. If we want to be up there challenging as close to Celtic and Rangers, Hibs and Hearts too we have to win most weeks.

"We need to dust ourselves down and get focused on three points again."

Aberdeen blew a glorious chance of progressing to the play-off round of the Europa League for the first time on Thursday and Reynolds admits they were furious with themselves for not progressing because he did not believe Apollon Limassol were at the same level as the other teams who have eliminated them at this stage like Real Sociedad, Kairat Almaty and Maribor.

He said: "It’s disappointing, sore and still raw. No disrespect to them but any time we have gone out it’s been against a bigger team.

"We’ve been here before, but we’ve always gone out giving it our best and showing exactly what we are all about. We showed that in spells against Apollon but we just didn’t show it enough. Both goals they scored – their first goal last week and first goal this week was poor defending from us rather than them cutting us open.

"Of all the years we’ve been here, this was definitely our best chance of progression and I think anybody who has followed those campaigns would agree. Previously, we’ve played top European sides. Don’t get me wrong – Apollon were decent but they were beatable.

"I don’t think it becomes a psychological issue. The teams we went out to before you’d say, good side we just didn’t have enough. This year we sat on the plane and felt we’d blown a real opportunity. We gave ourselves a real chance after the first leg and our attitude was that we were always going to need to come here and score.

"It’s not our style to sit back because we have players in our team who are going to create and score goals. We score more often than we don’t and felt we would score on Thursday. We had three or four good chances which we never took. On another night one of those would have gone in. We just couldn’t get that away goal."