The Dons lined up with Brown in goal and the same back four; Robertson, Reynolds, Considine and McArdle. Ryan Jack travelled with the squad but was unable to play due to illness. Chris Clark came in to partner Arnason in the middle of the park whilst the word was Gavin Rae would played wide right and Pawlett wide left. Upfront Darren Mackie was given a recall and partnered Scott Vernon. Rory Fallon was ill. Russell Anderson made his first appearance on the subs bench.
In warmish conditions the game started with an end of season feel to it. The atmosphere and tempo gave it that feeling.
The formation on paper was a 4-4-2 but Gavin Rae seemed to sitting in front of the back four and Darren Mackie was dropping back to cover the wide left area and Pawlett was wide right, more a 4-5-1. The youngster showed some good pace early on to set up McArdle but the right back wasted a good crossing opportunity. On 12 minutes the influential Black had a shot from about 25 yards which he pulled just wide. Brown seemed to have it covered. There was an inquest by Arnason and Clark into how he was able to get his shot away.
In the early stages Aberdeen settled the better and were winning the midfield battle. After 15 minutes after some good possession Pawlett played the ball wide to Clark who whipped in a cross and Mackie did well to win the header but the ball went just over. Half chance.
Then after another good move involving Robertson and Rae, the young left back teed up Arnason but although he was able to get a shot away he did not have time to really set himself and it was a weak effort in the end, certainly compared with what he is capable of.
Clark Robertson was adjudged to have given away a free kick in a dangerous position for a high boot. Controversial decision as the Hearts played seemed to lower his head. The free kick was in a good position as well. The left back Grainger took it and tried to curl it into the top hand corner but his shot had little curl in it and went well over.
On 20 minutes, biggest cheer of the day so far. Russell Anderson came off the bench to warm up. The Red Army gave him a hero's welcome as he warmed up in front of them.
The game at this stage had become very scrappy. There was sloppy passing from both teams and numerous petty fouls.
On 25 minutes the first corner of the afternoon went to the home side and so did the first goal. Hammell played it in, outswinger, to the far post, McGowan and Webster went in together in what looked like a pre arranged move. The Dons players were all ball watching and not one of the made a challenge. McGowan had the simplest of tasks to jump above Arnason and to head the ball home past the stranded Brown from about six yards. Really really poor defending all round.
Pawlett was then booked.
Aberdeen regrouped after conceding the goal and enjoyed some possession. A long throw from Arnason almost broke to Pawlett on the six yard box. Then Robertson played it back in, Considine won the header which just broke away from Pawlett again. Unlucky. Then a great ball from Robertson led to the Dons first corner. The ball eventually fell to Rae but his left footed shot came off the side of his boot and spun harmlessly wide.
Some more good possession for the Dons though and corner two was followed by corner three. Considine was unlucky with a shot at the near post that was blocked. The shot would certainly have trouble the keeper. Hearts then hit on the break and Skacel fell over after being involved in a race with Arnason for the ball. Arnie was booked which was a shocker of a decision as Skacel dived. There was hardly any contract.
The final incident of the half saw another long throw from Arnason. Hearts though had defended any ariel threat well, certainly better than the Dons did for the goal.
Aberdeen made a positive start after the break. Another cross, Scott Vernon challenged but again the Dons could not get the break of the ball. At the other end Driver played a good low ball in, Brown could not come to collector but thankfully no Hearts played had made a run off their markers.
After a well worked move Robertson played in another good cross but Webster was again there to meet it. Like last week the Dons needed to realise high balls into the box were not going to be beneficial. They had to try something else.
Then from nothing another Hearts goal on 52 minutes. Skacel picked the ball up about 30 yards out. He was allowed to turn and fired the ball past Brown. A good strike although the keeper might have done better. His defence certainly should have done better. The goal seemed to take the wind out of Aberdeen sails.
Pawlett was replaced by Megginson as the Dons looked to someone to try and get them back into the game. Hearts were that comfortable they could afford to take off Ian Black. He was replaced by Suso Santana.
Zaliukas was booked for taking down Mackie. From the free kick McArdle played the ball in, Vernon won the header but glanced it well wide. The game had a real end of season feel to it. The Dons were not even getting out of second gear. Vernon was flicking the ball on and holding it up but he was struggling to know where any of his team mate were. Fallon seems the only player he has formed any kind of partnership with.
At the other end Considine blocked an almost certain goal on the line as Hearts just seemed to power past the Dons defence at will.
On 75 minutes Clark Robertson came off and was replaced by Russell Anderson. His first appearance in an Aberdeen shirt since 2007. At least it gave the Red Army something to cheer. Russell went into his familiar centre half position to partner Considine. Reynolds moved to left back. Andy also handed Russell the captain's armband. Could that be the way they line up at Hampden?
His arrival momentarily lifted the Dons. Arnason had a great little move in the middle of the park. He beat a couple of players before firing a shot high and wide. Maybe got a bit excited but at least it was a shot at goal, the first of the half with only 10 minutes to go. Arnason was then replaced by Stephen Hughes. Like Anderson his return is welcome as he offers some creativity in the middle of the park, something badly missing after this performance.
Hughes saw a lot of the ball. He brilliantly teed up Vernon with a chipped free kick but Vernon blasted the ball over the bar. He really should have scored to set up a grand stand finish. Instead it was Hearts who grabbed a third. Skacel collected Barr's cross and nipped in ahead of Considine and Anderson and comfortably rolled the ball past Brown. The Dons appealed half heartedly for offside.
In injury time Reynolds did have the ball in the net but was ruled offside. The Dons have now not scored at Tynecastle in almost 700 minutes. With not one shot on target they never looked like doing so this afternoon apart from the Vernon chance.
Much work to do before the semi final.