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Adjusting the objective correction collar is a widely used approach to correct spherical aberrations (SA) in optical microscopy. In this work, we characterized and compared its performance with adaptive optics in the context of in vivo brain imaging with two-photon fluorescence microscopy. We found that the presence of sample tilt had a deleterious effect on the performance of SA-only correction. At large tilt angles, adjusting the correction collar even worsened image quality. In contrast, adaptive optical correction always recovered optimal imaging performance regardless of sample tilt. The extent of improvement with adaptive optics was dependent on object size, with smaller objects having larger relative gains in signal intensity and image sharpness. These observations translate into a superior performance of adaptive optics for structural and functional brain imaging applications in vivo, as we confirmed experimentally.