ROSS County took a shock lead at Aberdeen – but ended up losing 2-1 at Pittodrie in the Ladbrokes Premiership today.
In what some suggest may be Derek McInnes's last match in charge of the Dons before being snapped up by Rangers, County ran them close.
A Michael Gardyne shot caught out goalkeeper Joe Lewis to put the Staggies in front early on, but on-loan Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie swiftly levelled for the Dons.
A Kenny McLean penalty early in the second half clinched it for the second-placed Reds, who moved to within one point of Celtic, who were held 1-1 by Kilmarnock at Parkhead.
Due to this defeat, County slipped to ninth on goal difference behind Hamilton, meaning they are four behind seventh-placed Hearts and three ahead of Dundee and Killie at the foot of the table.
Surrounding this game from start to finish was the questions about whether this might be the last of McInnes being in charge of the Dons, with the feeling in the Granite City that he won't turn down the chance to manage Rangers should the call come from Ibrox following Pedro Caixinha's sacking.
He'd batted that question away beforehand and he was up against a man today in Owen Coyle who put him on the management track at Dundee United, but more notably at St Johnstone where the latter was his boss.
On the field, Aberdeen were looking to strike back from their 3-0 defeat by Celtic in midweek, some 24 hours after County drew 0-0 at St Johnstone.
Coyle, since recently replacing sacked Jim McIntyre, had guided his side to two wins, one draw and seen Hearts win in Dingwall.
They were without goalkeeper Scott Fox, who came off at Perth with a thigh injury, so than more than capable Aaron McCarey stepped in between the posts.
Other than that, Coyle made four changes to his line-up with Sean Kelly, Gardyne, Jamie Lindsay and Craig Curran recalled.
Skipper Andrew Davies was sidelined with a knock, while Ryan Dow, Tim Chow and Thomas Mikkelsen began the day on the bench.
For the hosts, former Inverness CT star Christie returned after being ineligible to face his parent club Celtic on Wednesday.
Scott Wright and Greg Stewart were also handed starts, with Andrew Considine, Adam Rooney and Gary Mackay-Steven all dropping to the bench.
Aberdeen began on the front foot, with Stevie May and Wright making advances into the box before being stopped in their tracks.
Yet, County shocked Pittodrie when Gardyne had a pop from distance and Lewis was beaten by the sweve as he was unable to keep it out as the ball flew under his body after just eight minutes.
It was a goal from nothing and will be one that Dons keeper won't want to view again.
However, that advantage lasted a mere four minutes when Christie linked up with May and rifled a high shot past McCarey into the net.
Having had a taste of it, Christie had another attempt moments later, but this time his low drive flashed wide of the right post.
Kenny McLean, who intends to move on from Aberdeen at the end of the season, then cut inside the box and his searing shot finished beyond the right post.
Nearing the 20th minute, home skipper Graeme Shinnie was lined up on the left by Christie and watched his effort dip just over McCarey's crossbar.
At the other end, Lewis came to his team's rescue when he dived at Curran's feet as the striker connected with a cross from Kelly.
County were more than holding their own in this contest and Gardyne's low shot was held by Lewis when he got on the end of a Jason Naismith delivery.
Kelly then slid in to prevent Christie netting for the hosts when Christie burst down the left flank and sent in a telling ball on the half hour mark.
McCarey had to look likely for the next Reds attack, beating away a 25-yard stinger from McLean.
Three minutes before the break, Aberdeen should have got in front, but Christie fluffed his lines from six yards out when he met a teasing ball into the the back post from Wright.
Early in the second half, May flighted in a corner for the Dons, but McLean's header was off target by some distance.
However, on 52 minutes McLean won it for Aberdeen from the spot after Lindsay was judged to have fouled Shinnie in the box after the Dons captain linked up well with Stewart.
Christie nearly added a third for Aberdeen on 63 minutes, but his long-range shot crashed back off the crossbar.
Both sides probed for another, but Aberdeen edged to victory, with that spot-kick making the difference in the end.
Next weekend, County are home to Betfred Cup finalists and fourth-placed Motherwell, who lost 1-0 against Hibs today at Fir Park.
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, O'Connor, McLean, Stewart (Rooney 72), Mackay-Steven, Arnason, Wright (Mackay-Steven 72), McKenna, May (Maynard 58). Subs not used: Rogers (GK), Considine, Reynolds, Tansey.
Ross County: McCarey, Fraser, Naismith, Kelly, Gardyne, Curran, Draper, Lindsay, O'Brien (Schalk 75), van der Weg (Routis 81), Keillor-Dunn (Dow 66). Subs not used: Munro (GK), Routis, Chow, Mikkelsen. Mckay.
Referee: Don Robertson.