If Alan Stubbs was any doubt about just how daunting the task will be to keep St Mirren in the Ladbrokes Premiership this season, then he is only too painfully aware now after this Betfred Cup hammering at Pittodrie.

In truth, Aberdeen could have won by twice as many goals such was the difference in class between the teams but they were more than happy to settle for a Gary Mackay-Steven double added to single strikes from Graeme Shinnie and Stevie May.

Not that Stubbs was in any mood to sugar coat things afterwards. “The fans made the long trip and the players didn’t give them anything to cheer about," he said. "Some accepted it but one of the things the supporters expect is commitment even when things aren’t going well.

“A couple of the players felt sorry for themselves and, if I was a fan, I’d be disappointed with that because they made that long trip north and worked hard all week to come and support the team."

Ironically there were actually setbacks for Aberdeen before a ball was even kicked as Niall McGinn was injured in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Frank Ross, making his first start after last season's loan spell at Morton.

The much anticipated debut of Manchester United's on-loan striker James Wilson was also put on hold as he failed to recover from a knock picked up playing for the Old Trafford club's Under-23s against Fulham last weekend.

McInnes was unwilling to risk the player ahead of next weekend's Premiership visit to face Hibs, especially as he believes Wilson has the potential to be the best signing he's made in five and a half years at Pittodrie.

He said: "It's a real disappointment for everyone to be honest [Wilson's absence] but these things happen.We just made the decision not to risk him in this one to make sure he is right for next week at Easter Road.

"He's an exceptional talent and I think that he can be as good a signing as we have ever made, even as a loan signing, if he plays to his full potential and it's important he gets the minutes on the pitch to get himself going again."

Of course, Hamilton Accies will head to tomorrow's transfer tribunal claiming Lewis Ferguson has the potential to claim that mantle as the clubs finally decide a fee for the teenager who moved north at the end of last season.

The Dons will be hoping the people responsible for that judgment really do ignore his early season form or they could be landed with a hefty bill as the midfielder showed once again that his impressive performances against Burnley were no fluke.

Ferguson scored with a stunning over-head kick at Turf Moor and could easily have put the tie out of sight in the first seven minutes with a 25-yard free kick that flew just wide, a header Craig Samson clawed wide then a prod just past the post from the resulting corner.

Not that his team-mates were exactly slouches either as May and Scott Wright also went close to scoring before Mackay-Steven finally made the deserved breakthrough after what was a one-sided opening to the game.

The only surprise was that it took Aberdeen 16 minutes to get the first as they ripped the Buddies apart almost at will with full-backs Paul McGinn and Hayden Coulson given a particularly torrid time.

Stephen Gleeson manipulated space on the left-side byline before lofting a pass which Mackay-Steven volleyed home. Then, just four minutes later, the former Celtic winger made space on the left before hanging a back-post cross which Shinnie gleefully headed in.

Aberdeen were so embarrassingly superior that we even saw May score only his second goal this year for the club, largely thanks to the normally reliable Samson joining in the mayhem with a slack ball intercepted by Wright.

He rounded the anguished goalkeeper before rolling it square for May to hammer high into the unguarded goal, a moment of relief for someone who has underperformed since last summer's £400,000 move from Preston North End.

Coulson's personal nightmare was complete in 56 minutes when, for once, Mackay-Steven didn't get beyond him, but only because the full-back tripped the winger who despatched the resulting spot kick for his fourth goal of the season, three of them from the spot.