Neil McCann and Billy Dodds’ relationship has taken many forms over the years and they are hoping their Inverness incarnation ends with a promotion push.
With their old club, the Dark Blues, headed north for a crucial Championship clash on Tuesday night, the pair will be in confident mood.
Since taking the reins on a temporary basis from John Robertson, who went on compassionate leave in February, interim boss McCann has guided ICT from relegation danger to the play-offs.
Sitting third and fourth respectively headed into the final three games of the regular season, Dundee and Inverness are the second-tier form teams.
Lifting the lid on their many different dynamics, ex-Dee striker Dodds sounds delighted but a little surprised at how well things have gone since he joined former Dark Blues boss McCann as No 2 at the Caledonian Stadium in March.
McCann pulling rank on Dodds in the dugout is a big change from Dundee days
“He used to be my boot boy at Dundee,” the 52-year-old reminisced.
“Now, though, it’s flipped and he pulls rank on me now and then!
“He’s a good lad. We roomed together at Rangers for three years and we played together with Scotland as well.
“I’ve known him a long time and I’m local to the club so it would’ve been selfish of me to say no.
“I’m right on their doorstep and it’s worked out really well.”
Dodds, who has lived in Inverness since acting as Jim McIntyre’s assistant at Ross County, is yet to taste defeat with the Caley Jags – unbeaten in their last seven games headed into Tuesday’s tussle.
He’s seen slow, steady development on the pitch in his short time in the Highlands and hopes there’s no stopping them headed into the final stretch.
It took him some convincing to link-up with old pal McCann once more, but Dodds is happy to be back in football and working hard on the training ground.
Confident Caley Jags finding their groove at the right time
“I put my heart and soul into it – I put my tank into it,” the former Dundee United man said.
“They were a coach short when I came in because John (Robertson) and Kells (No 2 Scott Kellacher) had to step down for the time being.
“When Neil went in he only had two, him and Barry (Wilson), so it was a case of getting the right number of coaches in there because it was a big workload.
“We were one point off relegation when we went in. I talked to Neil and I thought about it, we weren’t going well at the time and our next two games were Raith and Dunfermline away.
“I thought: ‘Wow, we’re straight in here playing two of the best teams in the league’.
“Somehow the boys just got their heads down, dug in and won both of them.
“It was suddenly like: ‘OK, this is great’.
“Since then the boys’ confidence has grown and the attitude of the Inverness players since we’ve been in there has been nothing short of fantastic.
“We’ve gone from strength to strength.
“We’ve got better because the performances against Raith and Dunfermline weren’t brilliant.
“They were good, hard-working, solid performances but what it brought out of us confidence-wise is incredible.
“We then started giving teams a hard time and beating team thoroughly, knocked Ross County out of the Scottish Cup, a Premiership team, and just beat Morton 4-1 the other midweek there.
“You can see how it’s developing.”
ICT deserve their shot at promotion
Dodds, who was assistant manager to Gordon Chisholm at Dens Park back in 2010, says a top-four finish is Inverness’ to lose.
With the work they’ve put in to turn their season around, he hopes the Caley Jags get their shot at a return to the Premiership after relegation in 2017.
Dodds feels they deserve as much but knows the first hurdle against James McPake’s Dundee – a side with the same goal – is “huge”.
“We’ve gone from one point above relegation to being in the play-off spots so it’s ours to lose,” Dodds added.
“It’s a hard run, though.
“Dundee on Tuesday night is huge and then it’s Hearts away, hopefully they’ve got one eye on the Premiership having won the league, and then we’ve Ayr United at home.
“We’ve worked hard and deserve our chance. The boys have been brilliant.”