DEREK McINNES is adamant his Aberdeen team had Ronny Deila’s Celtic worried last season.
The Dons beat the Hoops twice in the Premiership before falling out of the title race in the run-in.
However, the Pittodrie boss accepts Brendan Rodgers has brought the Parkhead outfit up to a new level since he arrived as the Norwegian’s successor in the summer.
And he he knows he can expect a different ball game when the two teams lock horns tomorrow afternoon in the Betfred League Cup Final for the first piece of silverware of the campaign.
McInnes takes his side into the tussle at the national stadium in the knowledge they have lost both their league meetings with the champions, 4-1 in Glasgow and 1-0 at home.
He said: “Without question, I think the two victories in the previous campaign planted that seed of doubt in them.
“They knew they had a challenge. They felt it. While we had good results and consistent results all over the country last season and the year before, it was the games last season when we beat them that had a significant impact on them.
“And we need to plant the seed of doubt in Celtic on Sunday and that means starting the game well, being strong and being as good as we can be.
“I don’t think they would be too caught up in what has been said. There is a lot of positivity and positive comments towards this Celtic team. And rightly so.
“The improvement in them is clear. I still think we are a team who can beat them. I have no doubt about that.
“A lot of things have to go our way and we have to play very well on the day, but I still think it’s a game we can win.
“The game is played on the pitch. Everything else is a wee bit of a sideshow, but I totally get why people are being so complimentary of them.”
When asked about halting the charge towards all three domestic honours, McInnes answered: “It’s been quite surprising they’ve not won a treble in the last few years.
“I think there always seems to be talk that this is the year for a treble and Brendan Rodgers has been quite clever in playing that down.
“But they will see this as a first trophy, as we do.”