It was a familiar story for the Dons, plenty of good approach play, particularly in the first half, coming to nothing as they failed to score and slipped to defeat at Tannadice.
There were three changes for the Dons, Connor McLennan and Dean Campbell back in the side while Jack MacKenzie got his first start for the club. They replaced Callum Hendry, Dylan McGeouch and Niall McGinn who all dropped to the bench, where they were joined by the returning Fraser Hornby. Calvin Ramsay was also on the bench as Shay Logan and Michael Ruth dropped out of the matchday squad.
There was one change for Dundee United from the side that drew 0-0 with Celtic a fortnight ago, Adrian Sporle replacing Nicky Clark who dropped to the bench.
Openings were at a premium in a competitive opening, the hosts winning the first opportunity by way of a free-kick in the sixth minute. Harkes played it in, the ball half cleared to Edwards who got a clean strike on the ball, the massed ranks of Dons defenders getting a block on it.
Aberdeen were inches away in the eighth minute. Jonny Hayes made a driving run forward after collecting a loose ball on halfway, before feeding McLennan. His pull back across the box reached Campbell some 16 yards out. His shot looked miscued, but it cannoned into Edwards and spun away from the goalkeeper, clipping the post and going behind. From the corner, the ball came back out to Campbell wide on the left and his cross was tipped over by a scrambling Siegrist.
A heavy touch from Reynolds in the centre circle on 20 minutes gave the ball away to Kamberi. He fed Campbell and his low drive from 25 yards was well saved by Siegrist down to his right.
A minute later, a neat interchange between Fuchs and McNulty got Fuchs into the box but under pressure, he flashed his shot well over the bar from 10 yards out. The Dons were then on the break, Ash Taylor finding Hayes with a fine cross-field pass, Hayes' shot from the edge of the box deflected wide by a defender. The pace of Hayes and McLennan was certainly worrying Dundee United on the break but once again, that telling final touch was missing.
Aberdeen got away with one in the 38th minute, a poor clearance from Joe Lewis giving United a chance, the ball worked into Shankland on the edge of the box. He tried to chip the goalkeeper but it was a weak effort, Taylor having plenty of time to get back on the goal-line and protect the Dons' goal.
Two minutes from the break, Lewis Ferguson went down under a challenge from Butcher. There was contact, if not enough to warrant a spot kick, but Ferguson was harshly done by in receiving a yellow card for simulation in the last real action of the half.
HALF-TIME: DUNDEE UNITED 0 ABERDEEN 0
Aberdeen manufactured the first chance of the second half, Hoban heading well over from McLennan's right wing corner in the 50th minute. A minute later, Campbell made a darting run to the by-line before pulling the ball back, only for a United defender to be first to the ball to turn it behind.
United were on the attack in the 56th minute thanks to a great ball forward from Siegrist but after good play between Sporle and McNulty, fortunately the final ball to Shankland wasn't accurate enough and the chance was gone. Two minutes later, Shankland was in, but Taylor did well to get a block on the shot.
It was the hosts who found the opening goal on 62 minutes, good persistence down their right from Fuchs to dispossess MacKenzie before combining with Shankland and then then getting the ball on to Harkes. Played into Shankland, he rolled a pass back to Sporle to finish crisply across Lewis from around the penalty spot.
Aberdeen made their first change on 75 minutes, McGinn replacing McLennan as the visitors chased an equaliser, Dundee United happy to it sit in on their lead and to look for a quick break.
Ten minutes from time, there was a good opportunity for Aberdeen, a free-kick won 35 yards out, just to the left of centre, but sadly the set piece came to nothing as confidence in front of goal remained at a premium. The hosts then swapped Sporle for Appéré in the 83rd minute, Aberdeen responding by bringing on Hendry, Hornby and Kennedy in the 87th minute in place of Campbell, Kamberi and Hayes.
A chance came Ross McCrorie's way in the 90th minute, Hoban getting a cross in but the midfielder got under his header and put it over the bar from a dozen yards out. Clark came on for Butcher for the hosts, while Ramsay made his Aberdeen debut in the 91st minute too, replacing Hoban.
The referee only added on two minutes of added time, Kennedy won a late corner in the 92nd minute, McGinn delivering but unable to beat Shankland at the near post, the last opportunity of the day going begging.