Andrew Nelson’s departure from Dundee this summer heralds the end of a forgettable chapter in the club’s history – and not because of the striker’s application or ability while wearing dark blue.
The frontman is the last Jim McIntyre signing to leave Dens Park.
It speaks volumes for the player that incoming manager James McPake ensured he was the sole survivor of the 12 men signed the previous winter.
There may be some at Dens right now who precede even the previous two managers before the current boss.
However, there is no disputing that today’s squad represents McPake’s Dundee.
Goalkeeper Jack Hamilton was signed by Neil McCann, Paul McGowan and Calum Ferrie were Paul Hartley signings while Cammy Kerr came through the youth setup, making his debut in 2014.
Nelson, who is expected to sign for Torquay United in the near future, epitomised hard work and graft when chasing down defenders.
But he was also a faint reminder of the darkest of dark seasons for Dundee fans.
The striker was signed by McIntyre during a complete revamp of the struggling Dark Blues in January 2019 which is understood to have cost the club in the region of £250,000 and brought them just eight points from a possible 45 after the transfer window closed.
Nelson, however, burst onto the scene as the great hope to lead the club to survival.
Goals against Hearts, Kilmarnock and Livingston earned points early doors but injuring a heel while celebrating at Livi saw his early promise falter.
And we all know how the season died with a whimper after that.
Martin Woods, Seny Dieng, Ryan McGowan, Andreas Hadenius, James Horsfield, Ethan Robson, Andy Dales, Craig Curran, John O’Sullivan, Scott Wright and Andrew Davies were all brought in by McInytre as he aimed to arrest the slide towards the Championship.
It didn’t work and none of those 11 appeared again in dark blue once McPake officially took over and swiftly set about rebuilding the squad.
The Dens boss was given a fresh canvas to start from in the step up into the managerial hot seat and, on the whole, has impressed with his work in the transfer window since last summer, even if promotion eluded the Dark Blues last season.
A global pandemic saw the chance of getting up through the play-offs evaporate and has also hindered transfer plans ahead of the new campaign.
On top of that, Kane Hemmings left after a U-turn on the agreement to take a wage cut to help the club’s finances that the rest of the squad had accepted.
The Championship’s return in October is when we will see what James McPake’s Dundee are capable of.
A year into the job with a largely settled squad now, the Dens gaffer will be determined to kick on in 2020/21.
He’ll have to do without last season’s top scorer Hemmings and up against a Hearts side fancied by many to lead the way at the top of the Championship table.
That, though, might just take the edge off the pressure of being Dee boss. It’s not rivals Dundee United who are favourites this time, it’s the Jambos and that’s a bit easier to take for the faithful in the stands.
They will still be expectant, however, but there are some aces in the pack for McPake to deal out. Graham Dorrans has shown flashes of his quality so far in his time at Dens, putting more time between him and his serious injury problems can only be beneficial while young Fin Robertson is a year older, a year wiser and no doubt champing at the bit to get his second season going.
Of the 16 senior players in the squad right now, only four weren’t signed or given a senior debut by McPake. He did extensive home work on them all and knows for certain what all but three can give him next season.
Those three would be new signings Lee Ashcroft, Danny Mullen and Alex Jakubiak.
And that’s where the biggest test of all will come for the Dens boss. Dundee’s decline from a force in the Premiership to one that eventually fell back to the second tier came after an inability to replace Hemmings and Greg Stewart and the goals they brought.
Hemmings has left again and it’s now up to former St Mirren pair Mullen and Jakubiak to lead the line.
Nelson’s departure last month may not have been the biggest surprise for Dees with no goals since August last season but it was met with the feeling of disappointment that it didn’t quite work out.
The good news it brought for fans, though, is the McInytre chapter at Dens Park is now well and truly closed.
We are now a year into McPake’s managerial story – let’s hope there is a happy ending to the next chapter come May.