Aberdeen and Dundee United played out an entertaining, if slightly one sided, stalemate at Tannadice on the return to Premiership action.

Dubbed the ‘new firm’, the fixture has been well enjoyed by both sets of supporters over the years, and the first league meeting between these sides since 2016 would have unquestionably drawn plenty of anticipation and an expectant crowd. Each game played without supporters is noticeable but encounters such as this feel particularly lacking without any sort of attendance or atmosphere.

Contrastingly, United had played three times during the international break while Aberdeen hadn’t been in action since the beginning of the month. The hosts had endured somewhat of a mixed couple of weeks. Their trio of Betfred cup fixtures during the international break was bookended with wins over Brechin and Kelty Hearts but sandwiched in the middle was a disappointing home defeat to Peterhead. Aberdeen meanwhile welcomed back man of the moment Andy Considine, fresh from a seamless double of clean sheets in his first two Scotland caps.

While both sides matched one another by each fielding a back three, Aberdeen had the better of the chances in a relatively frantic first half. Micky Mellon’s side have been intent on progressing the ball through the thirds this season but opted for a more direct approach for the Dons visit, which only aided the lofty back three fielded by Derek McInnes.

The two best chances of the first half fell to Scott Wright, both of which came on the break but neither of which he could capitalise on. His first arrived when the rampant Hedges slid Wright through one on one, but United ‘keeper Benjamin Siegrist was on hand to prevent a goal. Soon after, Siegrist was again called into action to parry a close-range effort from Wright to safety after the Dons had profited from more space offered up with United chasing a goal.

Jonny Hayes also went close twice and Aberdeen had a seemingly blatant penalty shout waved away in an opening period that they quite simply should have led in, but a mixture of indecision and good last ditch defending kept the scores level. Missed chances was the main takeaway for Derek McInnes, who knew his team should have capitalised on their dominance.

He said: “When we come as the away team, have 18 shots, 11 corners and umpteen free kicks we’re looking for more. But it wasn’t for a want of trying, the players certainly put a lot into it, they certainly did a lot of things right.

“We still had the second half to do something about it, and unfortunately for us when they defend their box as deep as they were in that second half, we were looking for more of that penalty box striker maybe a {Sam} Cosgrove type would have been ideal for that.”

As alluded to by McInnes, the second period continued to be controlled by the visitors, who completely dominated the ball but saw little of it exchange into chances until late in the half, with the home side leaving less space to exploit and putting in a stronger defensive performance.

An underlapping Andy Considine would produce a teasing cross that was so nearly turned into his own net by Mark Reynolds after the hour mark, as was the becoming trend in the second half, whatever the visitors flung into the box tended to be blocked, tackled or headed clear. Niall McGinn’s first touch after coming off the bench, from a dead ball 20 yards from goal, came close but was dealt with well by Siegrist. Hedges then burst into life to stride past two men and deliver a fierce ball across the face of goal which had no takers.

After all Aberdeen’s dominance, United almost scored with their first clear opportunity when they broke away following a corner minutes before the end. Marc McNulty did superbly to pick out the marauding Logan Chalmers on the turn, who skipped past Taylor but was unfortunate to see his shot met by the outstretched leg of Joe Lewis when through on goal. McInnes’ side had a number of half chances as the game drew to a close but couldn’t break the dead lock.

Micky Mellon was keen to temper expectations of his side after the final whistle. While his side were second best on the day, he was impressed with their defensive performance.

He said: “Certainly in terms of desire and defending your 18-yard box, I see the beauty in that as well. I thought some of the stuff was fantastic.

“Then we ended up probably with the best chance of the game, a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, so we’re showing development forwards, but we want to keep moving it forwards and we want to be better and dominate games, but that’s going to take time we’ve not been in the Premiership for four years now, like I keep saying to everybody.”