Forget about Celtic, getting one over on old rivals Aberdeen today would be a fitting tribute to Dundee United legend Jim McLean.
Just like the great clashes of the late 1970s and 1980s with McLean’s friendly foe Sir Alex Ferguson, the New Firm derby is all about putting the Glasgow two to one side and focusing on Scotland’s Northern football powers.
Their lights may be diminished from those days, with neither pushing for the league or making deep runs into European competition anymore, but decades on it’s still an important fixture.
The historical context is obvious and a win at Pittodrie this afternoon would be a fine way for the current United crop to toast the club’s greatest ever manager – who sadly passed away on Boxing Day at the age of 83.
Wee Jim would’ve loved the idea of the Terrors getting one over on his good mate Fergie’s Dons, make no mistake.
I know United were keen to pay tribute to their 1983 league-winning boss with a result at Celtic Park on Wednesday but that was simply too tall an order in what’s been an emotional week for the club.
However, they have a second chance against the Dandies and, for Micky Mellon’s Tangerines, it’s another test of their top-six credentials.
They were outclassed by the Hoops at Parkhead during the week in a 3-0 defeat but, if fifth-placed United are to make the next step in their development, games against the likes of Aberdeen are far more important.
The third-placed Dons will be well-rested after their midweek clash at Livingston was postponed due to a frozen “all-weather” pitch at Almondvale.
However, the Terrors should be approaching the game without fear. After all, it’s been a relatively fruitful festive period for the Terrors, barring being given the run around for 90 minutes against the champions.
A win over Kilmarnock and hard-earned points against Hibs and Motherwell will have pleased boss Mellon as they look to cement their place in the top half.
I don’t think a relegation battle should even be in his mind at this stage and, one thing that is for certain, it would never cross Mr McLean’s going into a New Firm clash.
These games were always about challenging for the country’s top honours – Scottish football’s Davids battling it out to decide who would take on the Goliath of the Old Firm.
That may never be the case again but it is clear good days lie ahead for both clubs with their respective managers at the helm and I’m sure there will be immense respect shown to Wee Jim by Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen today.
The greatest sign of that will be how both teams approach the game – hopefully with competitiveness and fairness.
After all, for all they were the fiercest of foe, Wee Jim and Fergie were, too, brothers in arms.
Let’s hope we see a contest befitting that bond.
Since the opening day 6-2 thumping at the hands of Hearts it’s fair to say Dundee are in a better place as the Jambos come to Dens today.
For a while, only recently in fact, it didn’t look like that was going to be the case as the Dee were floundering in seventh in the Championship table and without a win in three league matches.
However, a five-game unbeaten run and former Jam Tart Osman Sow finding his scoring touch with six goals in his last three, and the Dark Blues go into this one full of confidence.
Just imagine James McPake’s men hadn’t surrendered a three-goal lead to draw with Dunfermline in that run and this afternoon’s encounter would see the sides starting the day even closer in the standings.
All that said, Robbie Neilson’s league leaders’ form hasn’t slipped at all since mid October, losing only once to sit a commanding eight points ahead of Dundee with a game in hand.
With Hearts on that kind of tear, most in the division, including those of a dark blue persuasion, will have consigned themselves to fighting it out for second place and a play-off spot.
They’ll be up against it today but, one thing’s for sure, Dundee won’t be on the end of another hiding like the one dished out in the capital at the start of the season.
Finally, they are turning a corner and they need to keep that momentum going.
The sad news of Jim McLean’s passing last weekend was felt not just at Tannadice but on the other side of Sandeman Street, too.
The legendary Dundee United boss and former Dundee player quite literally crossed the divide in his career but his greatest gift to the city is its football identity.
That was epitomised in Dark Blues boss James McPake and No 2 Dave Mackay laying a wreath outside Tannadice as a mark of respect to the great man.
It was a truly classy gesture and exactly what I’ve come to expect from this great football city.
Rest in peace, Mr McLean.