HIBERNIAN will be doing very well to finish their first season back in the top flight above either Aberdeen, despite their convincing win over them at Easter Road last weekend, or Rangers in the coming weeks.

Neil Lennon’s side trail both Derek McInnes’s men and Graeme Murty’s team by five points in the Ladbrokes Premiership with 11 games remaining. Can they catch and then overtake them both? It is, while not impossible, asking an awful lot.

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If they come up short, though, their supporters won’t be too distraught at how this term has panned out. They have still been treated to some rousing performances and sensational results against both Celtic and Rangers. They have drawn with the former both home and away. The latter, meanwhile, have been defeated twice away.

What would Aberdeen supporters give to have that sort of record against the two largest Glasgow clubs? Would they trade finishing runners-up for the fourth season running for a victory against one of them? Or even just a draw? Many undoubtedly would.

It is undeniable that McInnes has done a fine job since being appointed five years ago next month. He is arguably the north-east club’s most successful manager since Sir Alex Ferguson.

However, it is also indisputable that his team’s performances against the Old Firm clubs have left much to be desired. It is not just the repeated failure to record wins and draws against them which have disappointed. It is the sorry manner that his team have capitulated.

Invariably, his charges are brushed aside with the minimum of fuss, leading to widespread grumblings about his team selection, tactics and motivational abilities. The accusation that is often, with good reason, levelled against him is that he overthinks such occasions.

Aberdeen’s results against Celtic and Rangers this season make for grim reading. They have played five times against the Parkhead and Ibrox clubs and have lost all five, conceding 13 goals and scoring just one in the process.

McInnes produced a statistic of his own which summed up just how difficult it is for his side to compete with Celtic in the wake of their heartbreaking William Hill Scottish Cup final defeat at Hampden back in May.

Scott Sinclair, he pointed out, is paid more in a week than his entire first team squad. It is unreasonable to expect Aberdeen to beat Celtic to silverware given their greater resources, enviable strength in depth and superior quality.

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The departure of Jonny Hayes last summer sums up what McInnes is up against. The Irishman had been his outstanding performer for several seasons. But after his £1 million transfer the winger became little more than a squad player.

However, there can, as results elsewhere this season have driven home, be no excuses for Aberdeen’s repeated inability to go down without, at the very least, putting up a fight against Celtic and Rangers.

Dundee, Hamilton, Hearts, Hibs, Kilmarnock, Motherwell, Partick Thistle and St. Johnstone, clubs with similar or smaller budgets, have all shown that Brendan Rodgers’s side and Murty’s team can be held or overcome in a one-off game.

Celtic have been beaten by Hearts and Kilmarnock away and held to draws by St. Johnstone, Hibs and Motherwell at home. Rangers, meanwhile, have lost to Hamilton, Hibs, Dundee, Kilmarnock and St. Johnstone. Why can’t Aberdeen do the same? There is no excuse.

Yes, Aberdeen beat Rangers home and away, for the first time since 1991, last season. But those results came during the ill-fated reigns of Mark Warburton and then Pedro Caixinha respectively. Normal service has very much been resumed since Murty took charge.

McInnes has a chance to halt a wretched run at Pittodrie tomorrow when Celtic come calling once again. The visiting team took part in a draining Europa League tie against Zenit St Petersburg over in Russia on Thursday evening and may well be tired and vulnerable.

If Aberdeen’s dire run continues then questions should be asked why they are the only club not to take points off Celtic and Rangers this season other than bottom-placed Ross County.