Anthony Stewart has no issue conceding Aberdeen are not yet the finished article. However, as far as the Pittodrie captain is concerned, that shouldn’t be a barrier to a Hampden triumph over Rangers.

On Sunday, the defender will lead a relatively inexperienced Dons team out at Hampden, bidding for a place in the Viaplay Cup final. Of the side who beat St Johnstone at the weekend, only three have previously stepped out at the national stadium.

Aberdeen’s season has been an inconsistent one to date, but Stewart firmly believes meeting these occasions head on is the only way to improve.

“Definitely (we are ready),” he said. “We’ve been together for six months now. We’ve got a lot of learning to do as a young team and with a lot of inexperienced boys in the squad. The only thing we can do to build on that is to play more games and get more experience and learn from our mistakes.

“In any good team there’s a lot of consistency and if we want to be the team we’re setting out to be we have to be more consistent in more games.  We’ve got a lot of young boys but we’ve got a good team and a good togetherness about us. And we can do anything we want to achieve.

“It’s a big day for the club, the fans, our families and us as players. We’re looking forward to it massively.”

A quite incredible late collapse when Rangers visited Pittodrie in shortly before Christmas still stings in the north east. Manager Jim Goodwin even described the pain of conceding those two stoppage time goals to Scott Arfield as the worst of his career.

Whether it has any psychological bearing on this weekend’s encounter remains to be seen, but Stewart is adamant the only way to exorcise those demons is to simply get it right this time.

“It was a learning curve for us,” he said. “I thought we performed well for large parts of the game and were ahead for a good part of the game as well. It came down to concentration in the last couple of minutes and that proved vital on the day.

“The only way to get over games like that is to play more games. So to be playing Rangers again so soon after we lost to them is massive for us.

 “I don’t think there’s any doubt within our squad that we are a bunch of good players. They’re good players as well but we’ve shown on our day that we can match anyone in the league.

“We did it for large spells in that last game against them. We just have to focus more and keep our concentration in vital parts of the game.”

It may be Stewart’s first outing at Hampden, but he’s no stranger to the big occasion. The centre-back scored at Wembley for Wycombe Wanderers in the EFL League One play-offs in 2020, albeit Covid-19 ensured the stadium was empty.

He did, however, get his chance in front of the masses shortly before moving to Scotland as Wycombe, again in the League One play-offs, narrowly went down to Sunderland last May. The uninitiated might wonder just how you keep your head with so many eyes trained on you, but Stewart says you quickly learn to block it out, as he will again on Sunday.

“I’ve played few big games in the past and hopefully I can use that in this game,” he said. “I played one final in 2019-20 season when we got promoted to the Championship, and just before coming here we played Sunderland in the play-off final in front of 75,000 at Wembley.

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“From the outside it seems like a lot but when you’re playing in the game, you’re focused on the pitch and you don’t let the surroundings take control of you. It can make you nervous before games but ultimately it’s about what you do on the pitch. On Sunday we can’t let the occasion override us, we’ve got to stay focused and execute the plan.”

It feels safe to assume that plan will involve Aberdeen’s current talisman, Duk. The 22-year-old Portuguese has proven an instant hit since joining from Benfica B during the summer.

An impressive 11 goals in 25 appearances suggest if anyone is going to send Rangers toppling out, it could well be him.

“He’s an amazing guy,” his skipper said. “His English wasn’t great when he first came but it’s coming on in leaps and bounds and we’re seeing a lot of his character. He’s being himself. He’s a handful, he’s powerful, he’s quick and he’s got an eye for a goal at the moment, so he’s a good guy to have in the squad. He plays without fear and he believes what he does he can do to anyone, we all hope he shows that this weekend.”