THEIR critics reckon they have struggled to spark.
But Niall McGinn insists Aberdeen are ready to finish 2018 with a bang.
The Dons’ inconsistent start to the season led to grumbles amongst fans, despite a run to the League Cup Final.
In recent weeks however, the points have started to roll in, leaving them poised within striking distance of the top of the Premiership.
With two games left before the mid-season break, the aim is to finish with a flourish.
For wide man, McGinn, that means maximum points – starting with a win over Celtic on Boxing Day.
“This is the biggest week of the season so far,” said the Dons star.
“Celtic at home in any game is always a big game.
“They’ve shown this season how brilliant they can be, although they’ll obviously be disappointed with losing to Hibs.
“Against us, they’ll probably have some big players back, and they’ll still be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
“But we can take confidence from our own results and get after them.
“Boxing Day has the potential to be a good game for us – and it’s a game we’re capable of winning if we take our chances.
“Of course, we’re probably going to have to ride our luck at times, and be defensively minded at times as well.
“But we can use the confidence we’ve gained in the last few games to hopefully have a go at them.”
Victory over Celtic would raise expectations of a strong Dons showing after the break.
Another over Livingston on December 29 would send the Granite City gaga.
For McGinn, the fans’ hopes would be entirely justified.
“We’ve come under the radar a wee bit but we’re slowly climbing the table,” he said.
“It’s been the norm for a few seasons now where everyone is talking about Celtic and Rangers.
“This season it has been Kilmarnock, who have done tremendously well.
“But we’re definitely in a good position – and that was the most important thing to take from a busy December.
“We wanted to win our games in hand and we’ve done that, beating Livingston and Dundee.
“Now we’re looking for a strong finish and looking for maximum points as far as possible.
“It’s going to be difficult, but we just have to take confidence from the way we’ve been playing.”
He continued: “There’s definitely confidence that we can do something in the second half of the season.
“There has to be.
“Looking at the December we’ve had, we’ve got a strong enough squad when players are fit.
“If you’re having a difficult December and you’re not winning games it can affect the rest of your season.
“But we’ve shown that we’re strong enough. We’ve picked up important wins in our games in hand, which has been really pleasing.
“Now we have to use that to our advantage.”
As in previous seasons, the Dons will jet off to Dubai in January for a warm weather training camp.
It’s a tactic that has paid dividends in the past in the form of strong, second-half-of-the-season performances.
Derek McInnes’ side looked particularly strong after the break in 2016/17, when they won 13 out of 18 Premiership games and reached the Scottish Cup Final.This time around, McGinn reckons Aberdeen could enjoy a similar bounce when the team returns, refreshed and revitalised.
“We go to Dubai on the eighth,” he said.
“That has been brilliant in previous seasons.
“We’ll have a bit of a break between the end of December and the eighth of January.
“Lads will go home to see family, some of the lads will probably go on their own holidays.
“It gives them the opportunity to dust down, get away from football, rest up as much as they can so when the hard work starts in Dubai, we’re ready to go.
“It has stood us in good stead for the second half of the season in the past, so there’s no reason why it can’t again.”