If they weren’t already ringing, the alarm bells surrounding Dundee’s season will be sounding considerably louder after Friday night’s defeat at Dunfermline.
Leading into the game, the situation wasn’t great for James McPake’s Dark Blues but now it appears a decidedly bleak outlook as they seem more likely to start slipping down the table than climbing it.
Five points ahead in fourth and facing a team directly below them in the Pars on a five-game losing streak, it looked the perfect opportunity to change the rhetoric of their campaign for good.
However, a 2-0 defeat at East End Park thanks to goals from Ryan Dow and Kevin Nisbet (see video below), means Dundee are only one point ahead of the Fifers in the final Premiership promotion play-off spot, ahead of a trip to Greenock this Saturday to face Morton, who are three points below the Dark Blues.
In fact, after the weekend’s results, Dundee are as close to Alloa in the Championship relegation play-off spot as they are to Ayr United five points above them in third.
Inconsistency has marred their first term back in the second-tier and, unless there is a remarkable and quick turnaround, their aim of catching Inverness in second spot seems a long way off.
Even at this stage, with 15 regular season games left to play, the six-point lead the Caley Jags have over the Dee seems almost insurmountable.
Particularly, given the way they are playing.
Devoid of any confidence, creativity, urgency or basic defensive organisation, it is undeniable Dee boss James is under pressure – from the fans certainly, at least.
Their campaign is at a crucial juncture with the January transfer window coming to a close and the players on the pitch looking increasingly lost and without any direction.
Their season could go into complete freefall as a confidence crisis takes grip.
The apathy among the support is clear, and understandable, as the owners continue to remain tight-lipped about the football side of the club.
That they will persist with the current set-up at Dens Park for the time being seems likely, though.
James has been well-backed in two transfer windows now and is still building a side in his own image.
The results must come, though, or what is, admittedly by all involved a long-term project in handing the rookie gaffer his first managerial role, may be forced into an abrupt end.
The Dark Blues board have shown patience with managers in the past, perhaps sometimes that has been ill-advised, however, with James, there is a feeling if they start to get things right on the pitch, the rest will fall into place.
Positives from Friday can be pointed to in the form of another academy product in Lyall Cameron, although perhaps not in the right moment, being handed his first top-team start.
New loan signing Ollie Crankshaw impressed on his debut, coming on in the second half after signing from Wigan the previous evening.
His arrival, that of Fraser Murray, Ross Callachan and the rumoured approach of others like Conor Hazard and Christophe Berra mean there will be time yet to judge this season’s Dundee vintage which, by all accounts, has the makings of a decent side.
Getting them to perform well on the pitch on a regular basis is a different question altogether, however.
Like many other matches this season, Friday night was not good enough at either end of the park, and, until that changes, the alarm bells with continue to sound.