Scott Booth reckons Aberdeen will avoid repeat of runners-up 'treble'
|Scottish Cup final|
|Date: Saturday, 27 May Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Kick-off: 15:00 BST|
|Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland from 13:15 BST, BBC Radio Scotland from 14:00 BST and text commentary on the BBC Sport Scotland website|
Aberdeen have been here before.
A little less than 25 years ago, they kept one half of the Old Firm at arm's length, but were unable unable to lay a glove on the other.
They racked up seven-goal wins. They defeated Hibernian in a Scottish Cup semi-final. They reached both domestic finals while finishing runners-up in the league. They arrived at the Scottish Cup decider as the only team that could stop the treble.
The season was 1992-93. With Celtic toiling in third place, Willie Miller's Dons took up the mantle of main challengers to a Rangers team on its way to winning nine league titles in a row - a team that two years later would add Derek McInnes to its midfield.
Miller's side had lost the League Cup final courtesy of a Gary Smith own-goal in extra time. They finished nine points behind Rangers in the days of two points per league victory. Yet the Dons were hotly-tipped, the pundits' favourites to end the season as Scottish Cup winners - surely it would be third time lucky.
They lost. Neil Murray and Mark Hateley did the first-half damage and Lee Richardson's late goal was not enough to cancel Rangers' party.
Striker Scott Booth was one of the men in red that day who had become thoroughly sick of the Dons' bridesmaid season.
Almost a quarter of a century on, there has been a sense of history repeating itself this term. Aberdeen finished second in the Premiership, nine points clear of Rangers, but 30 adrift of champions Celtic.
The Reds were brushed aside by Brendan Rodgers' side in November's League Cup showpiece, meaning defeat on Saturday at Hampden will ensure they finish the season as treble runners up - again.
"We had a really strong side, some were great players when you think about the likes of Alex McLeish," said Booth. "We had goals in the team, we had a mix of youth and experience.
"It's difficult to tell if we didn't quite have the same quality than in previous seasons, if the blend wasn't quite right, or if Rangers were just a side that had been used to winning. They had put a lot of success behind them, they just had that winning mentality.
"Aberdeen definitely had a good side, and probably on the face of it should have won something in that season, but it just wasn't to be."
That Aberdeen team of the early 90s sparkled with the names of Duncan Shearer, Mixu Paatelainen, Eoin Jess, Paul Mason, Brian Grant, Brian Irvine, Stewart McKimmie, Alex McLeish and Theo Snelders. The Dons were regulars in the latter stages of cup competitions.
"Back then we were used to challenging," said Booth, who moved to Borussia Dortmund in 1997. "We were in a lot of cup finals and big matches, and they were just the sort of games that could go either way.
"A season can become a fantastic season by winning silverware. You would go into these games feeling it's there for you if you play well.
"Cup finals are generally against the Old Firm. You know you have to beat them if you want to win things."
Celtic go into the final having defeated Aberdeen in all five clashes this season, most recently winning 3-1 at Pittodrie.
However Booth, who now manages Scotland's top women's side Glasgow City, believes McInnes' Dons have what it takes to leave Glasgow clutching the world's oldest domestic trophy on Saturday night.
"I definitely think they have," said the 45-year-old. "They've been together for quite a while, they've managed to keep a core. They've got a good balance between youth and experience and that is key. But just the fact that they know each other well and they play a system that works for them, they're all on the same page.
"I think that's a big thing about Aberdeen at the moment; they've had that consistency, they have been able to challenge. I'm not saying they can win the league but they can always beat the top clubs.
"In the early 90s it was always tough games but you did feel like you could win them, and I get that impression from the Aberdeen squad. They have a belief in themselves, that's a big thing, they always feel they can score goals.
"Celtic are playing really well and scoring goals, they are a really good side. But, there's just something that says to me that Aberdeen have got a chance this time.
"It's the final game, go there and beat them when you know that the odds are against you and you know you're the underdogs. Sometimes that's a good thing in a cup final, you can just go and play to win. So hopefully they can do that and come home with some silverware."