The Aberdeen side of the 1970s was one which regularly challenged for honours, but with the exception of the League Cup in 1976, under Ally MacLeod, was not particularly successful. During this decade, Aberdeen had 5 managers, Eddie Turnbull, Jimmy Bonthrone, Ally MacLeod, Billy McNeill and Alex Ferguson. They reached 2 more national cup finals – the Scottish Cup in 1978 under Billy McNeill and the League Cup in the following season under the new manager, the relatively unknown Alex Ferguson.
Aberdeen first played in Europe in the 1967–68 Cup Winner's Cup, having qualified as runners-up to Celtic in the Scottish Cup final the previous season. Their first tie was a 14–1 aggregate victory over KR Reykjavik, although they lost the second round tie with Standard Liège 3–2 on aggregate. As Scottish Cup holders in 1970–71, Aberdeen once again qualified for the same competition, but this time were eliminated in the first round following a 4–4 aggregate tie with Honvéd. This tie, level after extra time and also level on away goals, was decided by the first ever penalty shootout in UEFA competition history, Honved winning the shootout 5–4 in their own stadium.
Aberdeen were regular participants in UEFA competition in the 1970s, but did not proceed beyond the second round in any competition until the Ferguson years.