Derek McInnes will face Hibs again on Saturday, exactly four years to the day since he took charge of Aberdeen for the first time at Easter Road.

The contrast to that game could hardly be greater, with his debut as Aberdeen boss coming in a bottom-six dead rubber, and tomorrow's game being a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.

McInnes reckons that huge progress has been made at Pittodrie in that time, with Aberdeen now established as the second best side in the country.

And now he wants to deliver what no Aberdeen manager has been able to since Alex Smith’s side edged out Billy McNeil’s Celtic on penalties in Mount Florida in 1990; the Scottish Cup.

Still, as McInnes homes in on a third successive second-place finish, he allowed his mind to wander back to where it all began for him with Aberdeen, that dour Monday night in Leith four years ago.

“That game was a shocker,” McInnes recalled. “Back then there was nothing to play for and it was about assessing the players.

“We had five meaningless games. There was nothing riding on them but professional pride.

“Now here we are, a semi-final to look forward to, Europe secured and fighting for second spot. It’s important for a club like this to have meaningful games at this stage of the season.

“That was something we wanted to address and it’s probably something we have done.

“We felt there were good players here but we probably needed a few more to raise the standards and help those good players.

“The difference between our best player and poorest player was too big in the squad.

“It was important to get a more balanced level of performances. No disrespect to the squad I inherited. I was probably a bit harsh with a few of them when I first came in and a few harsh decisions were made because we only had a few weeks and knew we needed to bring in a freshness.

“We had to let a few go to bring others in.

“Now we're the second-best team in the country, we're in good form barring six or seven minutes against Rangers here, and there's been a lot I've been really pleased with in the team: the level of performance, the results have been good, we've been scoring goals and we overcame a tough last week at St Johnstone.

"We go into this one really looking forward to it.”