Although we’re only nine games in to the new Scottish Premiership season, we’ve seen enough football to start drawing fair conclusions about how each team is shaping up. And while some clubs have taken the new season by storm, last season’s second-place side, Aberdeen, look like a shadow of their former selves.

With just 12 points from their opening nine games, Derek McInnes’ side are currently slumped over in seventh place. And have seen their once-impressive points-per-game ratio of 1.92 from last season drop drastically to just 1.33.

Dons fans may suggest that their opening round of fixtures have been disproportionately unfair on them - an opening day clash with Rangers and then away trips to Hibs, Celtic and Hearts - but when we compare their head-to-head records to the rest of the division we see a dip in performances across the board.

Last season McInnes’ side picked up 2.3 points on average against Kilmarnock. This season that stands at zero. Similarly, Aberdeen picked up an impressive average of three and 1.3 points per game against St Johnstone and Hearts respectively last season. Yet this time around that has fallen to one and zero respectively. Sure, Aberdeen may have already dropped seven points to Celtic, Rangers and Hibs this season, but they’ve also seen their usually impressive record against the rest of the division slip too.

Perhaps the most obvious reason for this is the manner in which Aberdeen completely failed to replace Kenny McLean and Ryan Christie in the summer. The club’s transfer policy under McInnes has always been a little shaky at the best of times, but last season’s success was built off of the back of these two players driving the team forward form midfield and the club having no, clear replacements for either of them this time around is evidently where the problems start and end for Aberdeen.

Last season McLean finished the league campaign ninth in the division for combined goals and assists with 12 to his name. The next Aberdeen player on the table was Christie, who sat 25th on nine goals and assists. In this season’s Premiership have just one player in the top 30; Gary Mackay-Steven, who sits 29th with two combined goals and assists from the opening nine games.

Similarly, when it came to through balls in last season’s Premiership, Christie was seventh with 37 and McLean was 11th with 31. This time around Aberdeen’s most potent creator of through balls has been defender Dominic Ball and then defensive midfielder Stephen Gleeson, who sit 12th and 30th respectively.

However, where McLean and Christie’s influence has perhaps been missed the most is simply in the sheer amount of passes that made it in to the opposing box. In last season’s Premiership Aberdeen had two players in the top 30 for deep completion passes, with McLean sitting 11th and Christie at 17th. Yet this time around they don’t have a single player there.

To no great surprise for any Pittodrie season ticket holder, Gleeson, Lewis Ferguson and Chris Forrester have struggled to pick up the baton from McLean in the middle of the pitch and while Mackay-Steven and Niall McGinn have looked impressive in short and infrequent performances, neither have managed to step in to Christie’s shoes as the influential playmaker between the lines.

Of course, Aberdeen weren’t exactly the most attacking side last season. Despite finishing second above an impressive Hibs side and a rather unimpressive Rangers side, McInnes’ team could only muster an average of 1.47 goals per 90 minutes. Yet that figure has now dropped to 1.11 goals per 90 and as a result the Dons are dropping points at an alarming rate.

While the club may have legitimate excuses for skimping on McInnes’ transfer budget this season, it’s clear for all to see that this team looks notably weaker than last season’s and unless something changes quickly there’s very little chance of them once again proving to be the very best of the rest in the Scottish top flight.