It is never straightforward for a team to adjust to the demands of juggling domestic and European competitions as the games come thick and fast, but Graeme Shinnie has urged his Aberdeen team-mates to learn quickly ahead of their Europa League play-off second leg at home to Hacken on Thursday night.

The Dons came roaring back from two goals down in last week’s first leg in Sweden to secure a credible 2-2 draw ahead of the return fixture at Pittodrie. Sandwiched in between those two games was a trip to the SMiSA Stadium: a daunting fixture, given the Buddies’ strong start to the season.

It proved to be demanding, too. The visitors were decidedly second-best and not fully up to speed in Paisley, and looked certain to be heading up the road empty-handed as the game moved into second-half stoppage time.

Then, a reprieve: a penalty was correctly awarded to the Dons for Alex Gogic’s handball in his own box and while Bojan Miovski successfully converted, the ball struck the striker’s standing leg on its way in. It should have been ruled out but was missed, and Shinnie and his team-mates could breathe a collective sigh of relief.

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“Not good enough,” was the Aberdeen captain’s candid assessment of the team’s performance. “It was plain to see we were a yard off. We were extremely delighted to come away with a point.

“We were a yard off the whole game. In the first half it showed and I don’t think it got any better. We might have been even worse in the second half. Yes, it was tough coming off the back of what we put in on Thursday, but we need to deal with that this season and we need to be miles better.

“It’s a good trait to have to play as badly as we did and come away with a point. To stick in, stay with it and get a point at the end is a good thing to have of course. But we can’t be playing like that.

“I know it’s after the game on Thursday, but we are going to have to deal with that and we are going to have to be so much better than that, we know that. On Sunday at a tough ground against a team who have started really well this season we knew it was going to be a tough game. So we were very happy to come away with a point. But we need to be miles better.

“This is the first time we have had to deal with [balancing domestic and European football]. There are a lot of new boys who have come into the side. But for me it is something different.

“It is similar-ish to playing down south. But playing away, travelling, getting on a flight and everything else is something that is new to us all. So this is the first experience of it and of course we will learn from it. We need to deal with it. It is going to come a lot of the time for us and we need to deal with it better as a squad.”

Aberdeen will be offered another opportunity to show their mettle in just a couple of days’ time against Hacken. Win, and they will advance to the group stages of Europe’s secondary club competition for the first time since 2008. Lose, and there is still the rather sizable consolation prize of six group-stage games in the Europa Conference League.

Thursday night’s game has big ramification for the season, then, and it arrives after a tricky run of games on the domestic front for the Dons. A home clash against Celtic was sandwiched between trips to Paisley and Livingston, but Shinnie won’t use that demanding fixture list as an excuse.

“It’s been a tough start, of course,” Shinnie said. “We have only had one game at home against Celtic. We did well in that game.

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“It has been a tough start, but that is what it is all about and that is what we want. Travelling, playing in Europe, playing in these tough games, it is what we want as a club. We need to get used to it and we need to perform better.

“[Thursday night] will be a tough game. We all saw that Hacken were a good side. It is not going to be easy. But at Pittodrie with our crowd behind us…

“It is a game we are looking forward to. With the magnitude of the game, we need to put our own stamp on it. We are excited for it and want to do well.”