The Dons began their William Hill Scottish Cup campaign with the visit of League One strugglers Stranraer. It was a match that Aberdeen were heavy favourites for but the starting line-up signalled that there would no complacency from Derek McInnes and his side.
Joe Lewis retained his place in goal with a back four of Considine, Taylor, Reynolds, Logan in front of him. Jack skippered the side in front of the defence with Shinnie, McLean, Hayes and McGinn looking to link the play to Rooney up front.
Within the first minute of the match Hayes got into the area and picked out McGinn at the back post but he was unable to get the header on target.
In the 7th minute a fluid Dons counter attack brought the ball to Hayes, the winger found half a yard and placed a cross in for McGinn with pinpoint accuracy but Belford was there to palm the ball clear.
Stranraer were also keen to get on the front foot early on and forced a good save from Joe Lewis when Willie Gibson fired a low shot towards the bottom corner from 12 yards.
In the next ten minutes some slack passing combined with some unlucky breaks in the final third meant that Belford in the Stranraer goal had a quiet spell. Stranraer were keeping their shape well and committing fouls in the right areas to stop The Dons but the home side were still on top.
McLean burst forward past his man and whipped a low cross into the area on the 24th minute but a Stranraer leg meant a kind deflection into the arms of the keeper.
In the 29th minute Aberdeen made the breakthrough when McGinn floated a ball towards the back post, Hayes attacked it with great tenacity, getting up well and the knockdown fell to Rooney who sent a half volley on the turn past the keeper and into the net. The goal settled the Pittodrie crowd just ahead of the half hour mark.
Aberdeen should have gone 2-0 up when Considine found space from a corner but his header from 6 yards ended up over the bar. Andy had a similar chance earlier on. The Red Army didn't have to wait too long for a second goal though as McGinn raced through and fired the ball across the keeper from a narrow angle and into the corner of the net in the 35th minute. The winger latched on to a touch from McLean after a long ball from Reynolds and did exceptionally well to find the net.
Stranraer heads looked to have dropped at this point and it could have all fell apart completely for the visitors when Hayes closed down from the kick-off and got himself through on goal, his shot was high across the keeper who saved well. At this stage there was definitely a sense that Aberdeen would go onto make this a very long afternoon for Stranraer. On 36 minutes Reynolds swung over a great ball from the left that was headed on by Reynolds. The ball appeared to be going in until Belford appeared from nowhere to make an outstanding save. Adam played with the keeper when the two of them were at Bury. At half-time thought the score remained 2-0 after a convincing half from The Dons.
Half time 2-0
After the break McGinn showed intent to add to his tally from the left flank but shot well over before Shinnie tried his luck only to see the effort parried straight back out before being cleared.
In the 49th minute The Dons were handed a great opportunity to make it 3-0 when Neill handled the ball from a cross to gift Aberdeen a penalty which Rooney dispatched confidently into the bottom corner. It was a very well struck penalty.
Minutes later Considine put a ball in for Logan to attack, he headed the ball downwards and on target but once again Belford produced an outstanding stop.
The Dons were beginning to turn on the style and inevitably the fourth goal followed thanks to a wonderful team move. After starting things off in his own half Shinnie received the ball under pressure on the halfway line and did well to hold Gibson off before playing a long diagonal out to Considine who complete a headed one-two with Jack before cutting the ball for McGinn. Niall still had work to do but made it look easy as he fired the ball across goal and into the top corner with a left footed strike from the edge of the area.
McGinn looked hungry to add to his double and was unfortunate to see a strike from a narrow angle deflected wide by the keeper for a corner when it looked destined for the bottom corner. Another top drawer save. The match now had an exhibition feel to it as Aberdeen looked comfortable in possession in every area of the pitch.
Jonny Hayes was withdrawn from the action on the hour mark as Pawlett replaced him. There was a standing ovation for the winger who had put in a very effective performance for his side.
At this stage, Aberdeen seemed to take their foot off the gas, content to keep possession without really troubling the Stranraer backline. With twenty minutes remaining Scott Wright replaced Considine as Derek McInnes looked to give the game a bit of spark with the introduction of the youngster who had just penned a two year extension with The Dons.
Wright showed great willingness to run at defenders and certainly brightened things up with his directness. With just under 15 minutes remaining it looked as though Rooney would grab his hat-trick but from very close range he mis-queued a shot and Stranraer scrambled clear. The striker really should have scored.
Wright was joined by fellow AFC Youth Academy graduate Frank Ross as he replaced McLean for the final ten minutes. Both players showed some delightful touches to warm the crowd on a bitterly cold day.
It was a comfortable watch for the Aberdeen supporters in attendance as The Dons controlled the final stages of the match and ultimately kept a clean sheet in a resounding 4-0 victory. Credit to Stranraer who kept their shape and discipline in the closing stages and also a word for keeper Cameron Belford who had a very fine performance.
A good afternoon for the Dons and now onto Dundee on Friday.