Hayes: We can't be over-confident
Jonny Hayes insists there is no chance of Aberdeen underestimating Hearts when they play host to the Scottish Premiership bottom side this weekend.
The Dons head into the clash at Pittodrie sitting second in the table and high on confidence following an emphatic 4-0 win over Partick Thistle on Monday.
In contrast, Hearts - who started the season with a 15-point deduction for going into administration - make the trip to the Granite City 15 points adrift of nearest rivals St Mirren.
But, having already tasted defeat at the hands of the Jambos earlier this term, Hayes is well aware of how tough a task Aberdeen could face on Saturday.
The winger said: "The last time, we had a couple of good results and we were playing well, and we went down there and lost 2-1 to them.
"We know that we can't be over-confident, that's for sure.
"Where we have got to this season is down to hard work and a willingness to work for each other on the pitch.
"We've got to go out on Saturday and show the same attitude."
The Dons are aiming for their fifth win in a row when Hearts come calling.
Hayes added: "We didn't have a good taste in our mouths going into the last international break after losing to Ross County.
"We want to make sure we enjoy the week off with a victory. But you can't really look too far in the future.
"We prepare for the next game and hopefully go out and perform on the day."
The Irishman feels that he has hit his stride this term and believes there is plenty more to come from him.
He said: "I'm really enjoying it this season. It helps when things are going well for you.
"I came in over the summer and worked hard to get to where I want to be.
"There's still more to come but I'm quite happy with the start I've made.
"We've got so many players playing well, players that can make things happen out of nothing.
"There's maybe not so much pressure on one or two or three players to create something this year because everyone is playing so well."
Joe Shaughnessy returns from suspension but fellow full-back Clark Robertson was this week ruled out for 12 weeks following knee surgery.
Midfielder Chris Clark suffered a minor calf injury as he bids to return from a knee injury and will not make the squad.
Josh Magennis will return to training next week after a knee operation and Craig Murray is fit again following surgery but lacking match practice.
Meanwhile, Hearts winger David Smith believes a loan spell at Raith Rovers steeled him for the plight of the administration-hit club.
The 20-year-old spent the bulk of last season on loan in Kirkcaldy following a three-month spell there in the previous season.
Smith has made 12 first-team appearances for Hearts as they struggle to claw back a 15-point deduction, and he feels the harsh reality of life as a First Division footballer was good schooling for the survival battle.
"Last year I went and played in the First Division which is obviously a hard league to play in," said Smith, who with Hearts is set to face the in-form Dons.
"You get experience and learn things here and there. I think that has helped me this season.
"I was playing in front of fans for the first time. And the points were so important, to keep the manager in a job, to keep your place in the team you had to play well.
"Bonuses were so important as well. At the end of the month if you had a couple of win bonuses that was obviously more money for players' families, so that prepared you for that side of it.
"We played against Celtic in the cup as well and that was a good experience, playing on the television."
Hearts have only taken one point from a possible 24 since beating Aberdeen at Tynecastle in August, while the Dons have only conceded two goals in their subsequent 11 games.
But Smith believes they can repeat their triumph.
"They are doing well but we have beaten them before this season so I don't see why can't go up there and win," he said.
"This is obviously a massive game to try and kick-start our season again in the league.
"We need to start clawing back points and by Christmas maybe be within about six or nine points so we can give ourselves a chance."
Hearts manager Gary Locke hopes to have a full squad for the clash.
Goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald had a knock earlier in the week but Locke expects him to be fit.
Midfielder Jamie Hamill missed training at the start of the week after being troubled by a tight hamstring but has returned to the fold.