Barry Robson is on a mission to drive his Aberdeen side towards victory against Swedish outfit BK Hacken at Pittodrie and onwards to the next phase of the Europa League.

It has been 15 years since Jimmy Calderwood led the Dons to the UEFA Cup group stage and star-studded nights across the continent against top-quality opposition like Panathinaikos, Lokomotiv Moscow, Atletico Madrid, FC Copenhagen and Bayern Munich.

Having hauled themselves back from a two-goal deficit in the first leg of their play-off round in Gothenburg last week to draw, Robson now has his eye on bigger fish by squashing the Swedes before a packed house at Pittodrie tonight.

“The club hasn’t been in the group stages since Jimmy Calderwood’s team and before that, it was probably the great Sir Alex Ferguson team playing in games of that size,” Robson said.

“When Steve Agnew [his assistant] and I came in I don’t think anyone would have thought we’d be sitting here in this position.

“That’s credit to the players and the staff for everything they’ve done.   The aim was to get to the Conference League and they did their job there.

“Now we have a chance to get to the Europa League and what an opportunity that is. That’s been the message to the players.

“I’ve told them they’ve achieved the first bit, now go and try to do the next bit. Go out and enjoy it, this is a great chance to play at that level – it’s huge.”

Robson was still excited over his side’s performance a week ago in what was a compelling first leg. He expects more of the same tonight.

“What a game of football it was last week,” he said. “You saw what we want to be, how aggressive we want to be and you saw how Hacken want to play, too.

“They’re Swedish champions and they are that for a reason, so we know how difficult it’s going to be this week.

“Will they change their approach much? I’m not sure, that’s something I can’t tell at this stage.

“Last week there was good value in two teams really going for it but we’ll need to see what they come here trying to do.

“Last week we were a bit gung-ho at times and got carried away, but I like that in football.

“I want us to be playing fast and aggressive, it takes a lot out of you playing at that tempo.”

Jonny Hayes remembers the Dons’ outing against the Swedes in the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League and their stunning 5-1 win in the first leg at Pittodrie.

That was two years ago and the Irish wing-back saw signs in last week’s game in Gothenburg that Hacken have now adopted the approach Aberdeen took back then: forward runners from midfield and high full-backs.

Hayes, who was on the bench for that first-leg game, predicted an end-to-end battle at Pittodrie tonight with both sides prepared to attack with pace.

“I’m not saying this because we scored two goals,” he said, “but the second half was one of the best halves of football I’ve watched live in a long time.

“The fitness side can sway a game. For me it was more about the
mentality and character to get back into the game last week.

“We knew we would get a second after we scored and had we had five more minutes I’m sure a third would have come.

“That mentality was highlighted by a number of individuals. Graeme Shinnie drove the team on and we have that belief we can score goals.

“There are some games you have to take your medicine and you don’t have the ball, but you keep going and never say die.

“That’s what the manager demands from every game in and out of possession.”

Hayes is no stranger to European ties with the Dons as, under Derek McInnes, he experienced many
qualifying rounds in the Europa Conference League.

He said:  “We’ve had two, three or four rounds of qualifying before and we’ve had tough draws and fallen that little bit short.

“I’ve always been envious a little of the 2007-08 squad. I wish we had a one play-off tie like the one against Dnipro back then, regardless of the opposition, to prepare for.

“I’m sure our chances would have been increased of having group-stage football.

“This season we’ve got our wish. We’ve got the parachute of the Conference League but by no means are we thinking about that.”