Jim Goodwin has navigated the managerial mixer long enough that no word to come out his mouth will be an accident.

Sit in front of the microphone enough times and you learn to craft every sentence carefully. That’s why, when the Aberdeen boss set his stall out on the club’s cup ambitions back in October, you knew he was certain he could back it up.

“A club like Aberdeen,” he began. “With the resources available, with the history, the depth of the supporters and everything else which goes with it, we should be aiming for semi-finals as the minimum. When you get to that stage of the competition then anything can happen.

“I’ve always done relatively well during my short period as a manager in terms of going far in these competitions. I want to take Aberdeen, the supporters, the club and this new group of players, where a lot of them haven’t experienced anything like that, I want to give them that experience as well.

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“We are all desperate to get to Hampden and to get into that semi-final and to hopefully put ourselves into a situation where we can go and win some silverware because it’s been too long since that last happened here.”

Fair play to Goodwin, plenty managers would settle for a suitably vague ‘we want to go as far as we can’ when it comes to trophy ambitions. Not a cop-out, as such, but enough to ensure minimal accountability and no scope to be hit with ‘well, a few weeks ago you said this…’, should your team fall at an early hurdle.

After a truly tepid campaign last season, Goodwin is grafting to restore the standards he believes are befitting of Aberdeen. The Premiership has been a mixed bag this term but, on Sunday, the Dons have a real opportunity to tee themselves up for silverware.

Their fans are no strangers to the national stadium, largely thanks to the work of Derek McInnes over several years, but regular meetings with one of the most successful Celtic teams in a generation ensured more heartache than euphoria. This weekend, it’s Rangers who await in Mount Florida.

The last time these teams met on neutral ground in Glasgow, Lewis Ferguson’s header powered Aberdeen into a second League Cup Final in three seasons. It’s those such moments Goodwin is backing himself to recreate.

His confidence is certainly understandable. In two-and-a-half seasons as St Mirren manager, Goodwin guided a far less resourced club to the brink of two finals – losing in the last four of both the 2019/20 League and Scottish Cups.

Saints became relative regulars in the latter stages of the Scottish under Goodwin, and he sees no reason why that cannot be bettered at Pittodrie. His assuredness in delivering this is underlined by the fact he knows the Aberdeen support will hold him to his word.

Foraging far into the cups season upon season created an expectation among fans, one that has turned to frustration as time and again they just couldn’t quite add to 2014’s League Cup triumph. Goodwin may have taken over a group loitering around rock bottom by the time Stephen Glass departed, but his yardstick for success remains McInnes.

The hope will be that his achievements can be surpassed in time, and cup glory would certainly earn Goodwin increased goodwill as he oversees a squad rebuild that appears to have some way to go. But can they overcome Rangers?

Goodwin’s confidence will likely be enhanced by the fact it’s Michael Beale’s hand he’ll shake before kick-off, not Ange Postecoglou’s. Chances are, unless McInnes can summon Kilmarnock’s spirit of 2012, it’s Celtic who would await Aberdeen in the final. But in a one-off shootout to get there? The Dons would probably take Rangers at this point in time.

They will remain underdogs, but Beale’s Ibrox project, despite the new man being undefeated so far, remains in its infancy, while Celtic have been in formidable domestic form for over 12 months. The chances of Rangers having an off day as they adjust to life under a new manager feels higher.

Regardless, Goodwin will not simply rely on Aberdeen’s opponents failing to show up. They came so close to beating Rangers at Pittodrie just a few weeks ago, with only the unlikeliest of Scott Arfield doubles in stoppage time denying them a victory. Neutral Hampden and a hostile Pittodrie are different propositions, but you can bet Goodwin has leaned heavily on how narrowly they missed out on a statement result.

And therein lies the key – belief. Few, if any, Scottish football underdogs have ever entirely fluked their way to beating Rangers or Celtic. Such results are usually only achieved when the 11 men standing opposite Glasgow’s big two truly believe they can outlast them.

I’m not talking pre-match declarations of ‘anything can happen’ followed by valiant endeavour but not much else; I mean really, at their very core, being convinced they can back up effort by taking the ball and playing.

Goodwin is obviously adamant he can make Aberdeen a cup force once more, now he must ensure his players believe it, too.