Captain Graeme Shinnie admits Aberdeen have to cope with the rigours of fighting on two fronts as they lick their wounds from the 6-0 defeat by Celtic on Sunday.
Following a hard-fought 2-2 draw away to PAOK on Thursday in the Europa Conference League, Barry Robson’s side travelled to Parkhead to find themselves two goals down to the cinch Premiership leaders in 16 minutes through goals from Yang Hyun-jun and Kyogo Furuhashi.
Winger Luis Palma scored a penalty in the 76th minute and the Pittodrie side melted in 10 added minutes at the end of the game, as goals from Celtic substitutes David Turnbull and Oh Hyeon-gyu, twice, left the Dons ninth in the table – albeit with two games in hand over some teams.
Shinnie said: “Of course, we are not going to get away from the fact it has been a gruelling schedule.
“I think five away games in a row, there’s no getting away from that, but it’s no excuse for that performance.
“If anything, you can maybe tire towards the end, but we looked tired from the start. You can’t blame that on fatigue.
“It’s just not been good enough and overall, like the manager said, not acceptable as a team.
“This is where we want to be. In European competitions and in cup finals, fighting to get into cup finals.
“So we need to deal with it. We can’t use it as an excuse because it is exactly where this club wants to be, so we need to deal with it as a team.”
Shinnie admitted the chastening defeat was a reality check for the Pittodrie side.
He said: “It’s hard. Win at Motherwell, get through to a (Viaplay) cup final, good performance against PAOK, so three positive performances and, yeah, that was a sore one to take.
“We have gone into it in pretty good form and were brought back to reality a little bit, where our performances need to be.
“It’s a case now of recharging the batteries, having a bit of a rest, spending a bit of time with family and coming back and being ready to go again against Rangers.”
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