McGinn strike enough
Niall McGinn's 20th goal of the season was enough to beat Kilmarnock and provide a superb start to new Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes' Pittodrie debut as well as setting the Dons on the road to a victory that moves them above visitors Kilmarnock to head the SPL's bottom six.
McInnes is using the early games of his reign to get a handle on what he has at his disposal and handed 17-year old Craig Storie a debut in midfield, one of four changes from the side that had drawn at Hibernian on Monday night. Captain Russell Anderson missed out through injury.
Kilmarnock had lost 1-0 to Hearts in their previous match, and made three changes to the side which had started that game, but left the firepower of Kris Boyd and Cillian Sheridan on the bench.
Both sides were still feeling their way into the game when McGinn struck after just four minutes.
Stephen Hughes angled a ball to McGinn wide on the left, and the former Celtic man slipped the ball through the legs of Ross Barbour before curling a fabulous strike high beyond Rangers-bound goalkeeper Cammy Bell.
After 25 minutes, the Dons should have had a second goal. Storie's pass to Jonny Hayes set up a quick breakaway, and the winger played a good low ball towards Vernon at the near post, only for the former Colchester man to completely miss his kick.
Seven minutes later, another Hayes cross, this time from the right, was aimed towards Joe Shaughnessy on the penalty spot, but Mark O'Hara got in front of the young Irishman to head away for a corner.
The visitors had struggled to find a foothold in the game, but Jamie Langfield was called into action when Shaughnessy's slip allowed Paul Heffernan to slip in Chris Johnston, his shot parried by the goalkeeper before the danger was cleared.
A couple of minutes later, Hughes became the first man to go into referee Craig Charleston's book after a foul on 18-year old Johnston.
McInnes shuffled his pack at the interval, with Gavin Rae replacing young Storie in the midfield, and the Dons started the second half brightly.
They had already forced a couple of corners when Joe Shaughnessy's forceful run into the box allowed McGinn another chance to shoot from 12 yards, but Bell saved well.
McInnes had spoken in the build-up to the match of the importance of providing entertainment, to tempt back the dwindling crowds - only 6,334 turned out for this one - in the Granite City, and McGinn was the only player showing that spark in this game.
He drew a foul from O'Hara on the edge of the area which saw the Killie defender go into the book, and from the resultant free-kick saw his shot pushed away by Bell.
Kilmarnock introduced Boyd for the ineffective William Gros, before Aberdeen's second change saw Josh Magennis come on for Hughes.
With 20 minutes left, Boyd got his head to a cross from Barbour, but succeeded only in flicking the ball wide of the far post.
If that had served as a warning that this game was not over, Magennis should have ensured it was two minutes later. Vernon's deflected shot fell kindly for the Northern Irish striker, but with the goal at his mercy he somehow contrived to direct his shot straight at Bell.
Within a minute, McGinn also passed up a glorious chance, the ball dropping to him at the far post, but his shot wide of the upright.
The Dons had suddenly sprung into life and Ryan Jack got in on the act, forcing another fine save from Bell before the ball fell again to Magennis who this time sent his shot into the ground, taking all the power out of the effort and leaving Bell to mop up comfortably.
The final Aberdeen change saw Vernon replaced by Rob Milsom, and two minutes later Kilmarnock brought Sheridan off the bench with Jeroen Tesselaar leaving the action.
In the dying stages both Milsom and McGinn picked up bookings for kicking the ball away as the home side held out for a narrow victory.