Hearts players seemed incapable of mounting an effective defence during the 90 minutes at Pittodrie which left captain Lawrence Shankland baffled as to why any of their players would even think about trying to do so after the final whistle.

A team who were on their way out of the Scottish Cup after losing a goal to Celtic after two minutes the previous weekend never looked capable of doing any better in the league when conceding after five minutes at Pittodrie.

Luis "Duk" Lopes scored that one, added a second in 21 minutes and Mattie Pollock ensured the three points were Aberdeen's with a third before we were even a third of the way through the match.

The only surprise was that the home side failed to match the 5-0 losing margin inflicted by their opponents at Tynecastle just two months ago, such was the paucity of the visitors' performance.

Of course Jim Goodwin was removed as Dons manager after that result was followed by defeats away to non-league Darvel in the Scottish Cup and Hibernian, and there were stirrings of disenchantment with Robbie Neilson after this game.

The Hearts supporters still in the stadium at the end left the manager and players in no doubt about their feelings but defender James Hill seemed to be arguing back with some before team-mates guided him away.

Shankland insists he didn't see Hill or any other player reacting that way but then the striker found it impossible to believe any Hearts player could take exception to the abuse levelled against them at Pittodrie.

“In all honesty, I don’t know what anyone could have said back to them," claimed Shankland. “There was always abuse coming our way for that performance. It is wholly acceptable for the fans to react that way in my book.  

"I don’t  know how anyone could have justified that they were good enough out there today then my God!

“I apologise on the team’s behalf for the performance we put in.  Albeit we had a go in the second half and tried to get a goal but the game was finished. They have travelled up here in big numbers and we have really let them down."

What's even more concerning for Shankland is this isn't the first time lately the team have drastically underperformed, just when they seemed to be cruising towards third spot and another lucrative run in the Europa League.

Now seems from secure after a run of just seven points from the last seven games as a clearly rejuvenated Aberdeen under the guidance of caretaker Barry Robson has cut their advantage to just four points.

The Hearts skipper admits that leaves some tough talking to be done between now and their next game at Kilmarnock on April Fool's Day as he added:“I am gutted with that performance if I am honest.

“A few weeks ago we lost to Motherwell and it was the exact same mistakes we made. We need to get back to work on Tuesday and we will deal with it then.”

Robson is hoping Aberdeen's new Chief Executive Alan Burrows and director of football Steven Gunn will deal with the issue of his longevity in the post this week as well.

The supporters and players clearly want to see him at least given until the end of the season to prove himself worthy of the job and the recent transformation on the pitch has surely earned that.

Pollock, on loan from Watford until the summer, is certainly a fan, not surprising as someone signed by Xisco Muñoz in May 2021 has seen Claudio Ranieri, Roy Hodgson, Rob Edwards, Slaven Bilic and now Chris Wilder come in as manager since.

Ironically Wilder could have been Aberdeen boss by now if the club had got it's act together quicker but Pollock is more than happy to be continuing his football education at Pittodrie under Robson for now.

He said:"There has been a real special feeling that I haven’t felt something of this nature for a long time and I am loving every second of it. The gaffer knows what this club is about and he drives standards, whether that is on the field or off it."