Dons end Caley's unbeaten run
Aberdeen brought Inverness' six-game unbeaten run to an end with a 1-0 victory.
The damage was done by substitute Scott Vernon, who sent a glorious strike past on-loan Luton Town goalkeeper Dean Brill with 10 minutes remaining at Pittodrie.
The home side were unchanged following their 3-0 win over Partick Thistle, with Derek McInnes still waiting for a number of key players, including captain Russell Anderson and top scorer Niall McGinn, to return to fitness.
That meant defenders Andrew Considine and Michael Hector continued in the side, with left- back Clark Robertson on the bench.
Consistency has been key to Inverness' start to the season, and they were able to stand by the same eleven who had also started their previous six games.
But it was the Dons who started the brighter of the sides and striker Calvin Zola, boosted by netting his first goal for the club at Firhill last week, was looking a real handful.
He won a corner after just seven minutes from which Michael Hector saw a shot deflected behind. From Jonny Hayes' delivery second time round, Joe Shaughnessy's powerful was blocked on the line by the unfortunately placed Zola.
Peter Pawlett had also found the net last week, and he tried to repeat the trick with an effort from 20 yards, but Brill was happy to see his 20-yard effort fade away from goal.
Butcher's men had been struggling to find a foothold in the game, but David Raven's interception allowed them to build a neat move down the right culminating in Aaron Doran slipping in Ross Draper, who saw his shot deflected comfortably into the arms of Jamie Langfield.
At times, the home side were shown too much respect by their visitors, and the space afforded to Ryan Jack in the midfield allowed him to pick out a superb pass for Zola. He laid off for Smith, but the youngster was denied by the outstretched hand of Brill.
And the goalkeeper was at it again, as he reacted superbly to push a powerful Hector header over the bar seven minutes from the interval.
There had only been one booking in the first half, for Aberdeen's Smith who clattered into Gary Warren, but he was joined in referee Craig Thomson's notebook early in the second period by Ross Draper for a clumsy foul on Pawlett.
McInnes was first to show his hand from the bench, with Nicky Low replacing the quiet Gregg Wylde after 59 minutes. Within a minute, Jack was booked for a foul on Nick Ross.
Low was quickly joined in the action by Josh Magennis, the Northern Irish striker replacing Zola midway through the second half.
Inverness defender Warren was forced into a timely challenge to deny Smith after the Dons teenager had turned away from Josh Meekings and a minute later, Shaughnessy's header from a Low cross was held by Brill.
With 17 minutes remaining, Aberdeen's hearts were almost broken as Warren broke free in the area to head a right-wing corner goalward, only for Smith to clear off the line.
The was a flashpoint a couple of minutes later as Graeme Shinnie went head-to-head with Hector, the outcome a booking apiece.
Having weathered the Aberdeen pressure for the first hour, the visitors were starting to impose themselves more and Warren came close with another header soon after.
The Dons were still a threat too, and David Raven became the sixth player to go into the book shortly, as he brought an end to Hayes' run shortly before the deadlock was broken.
And when the goal came, it came in some style. The Dons' third sub Vernon had only replaced Smith three minutes earlier but it was he who brought down a cross from the left and sent a stunning strike on the turn inside Brill's left-hand post.
And the Dons could have extended their lead had Hayes' shot a couple of minutes later, following a fine run, sneaked inside rather than outside the upright.
Caley threw on subs Torbjorn Agdestein and Liam Polworth in a bid to rescue a point, but they were unable to grab a late leveller.
Goalscorer Vernon picked up a booking in injury time for a foul.