It looked like a canter, at times, but Calum Butcher believes Dundee United had to show character at crucial moments to win the league.
United raced away with the Championship title last season, dominating the division in a shortened season.
There were 4-1 wins against Inverness and Partick, a 6-2 derby success and a 6-0 beating of Morton.
However, midfield man Butcher thinks two hard-fought victories over Arbroath truly epitomised the Tangerines’ campaign.
The Englishman feels their fitness paid off as a late Lawrence Shankland double earned them a comeback win in September before they grinded out a 1-0 victory at Gayfield in December.
“Fitness was a big thing for us last season, even just lasting later on in games where Shanks would pop up with goals,” the 29-year-old said on The Dode Fox Podcast.
“Arbroath was one where we knew they’d sit in against us.
“They scored a goal and had something to hold on to but we knew if we got Shanks in the right areas he’d score.
“That was unbelievable. Those two goals were fantastic for us.
“It was a turning point in the season for us. To come from behind so late on it galvanised the team to know we’ve got that in the back pocket just in case you need to do it.”
Of the victory in Arbroath, Butcher added: “It was one game which stood out for me, looking back.
“It was terrible weather and I think United over the years, it’s safe to say, they’ve struggled at places like that.
“To get out of the Championship you have to win those games and it was a really battling performance from all the boys.
“To get the early goal and hold on as long as we did with the wind coming down at us showed a different side to our game.
“It showed a bit of the character we have in the dressing-room.
“It all came out that day and, after that, you know you’re going towards where you want to be with promotion.”
If the Arbroath successes put them on their way, the 2-1 win over closest title challengers Inverness in February is what sealed the deal for Butcher.
He continued: “I think we knew that was the game that, if we win, we were getting to that point where we were going to decide our season.
“It wasn’t our best performance but Shanks popped up with a great finish at the end.
“It was another really important game for us. It was a Friday night and the atmosphere was good.
“We had to deal with the rain being really heavy but we ground it out.
“Inverness are a direct side and we managed to soak up what they threw at us.
“By the end of it, you could see on our faces that we knew we were close to finishing the league off.”
On top of those momentous matches, Butch often found himself in the thick of the action in Dundee derbies.
He scored twice in the 6-2, set the tone in the Terrors 2-0 win at Dens Park and, recalling the fixtures, had a pop at the Dee for their celebrations after drawing at Tannadice.
Of his goals, he said: “I don’t know what come over me!
“That was a big statement because we knew going into the first derby we want to make a statement.
“We done that with our performance. I thought we played a lot better throughout the season but it just so happened to be that everything we hit went in.
“It was a big statement at the start of the season, going through August unbeaten and that was a really good day – something I’ll always remember.
“The 6-2 they were flying in left, right and centre but that 2-0 was one of our best performances of the season.
“We know going into those games how much they mean to people and we wanted to give fans the bragging rights as much as we could.
“Luckily, we were able to do it this season.
“The Friday nights help with the build up all week, everyone speaking about it and it being on TV.
On the 1-1, he added: “That game at home, we were frustrated at our performance but that’s going to happen in derbies.
“They’re different types of games, different atmospheres and Dundee had to win that game.
“For us to have taken a point we were really happy at that.
“Obviously, they’d celebrated like they’d won the World Cup but we knew by taking a point off them there we were one step closer to where we wanted to be.
“We weren’t really focusing on them at the time. We were looking up and thinking about sealing it for ourselves.”