Dundee United are licking their wounds after a mauling dished out by Ayr at the weekend – to get back on track, though, they can take a leaf out of the Honest Men’s book.
The Tangerines were given a home humbling by former manager Ian McCall’s league leaders on Friday night to bring Robbie Neilson’s Tannadice revival to a shuddering halt.
The United boss has described the result as a “boulder in the road” rather than just a bump and is hoping his side can put the result firmly behind them by going straight out and making it six wins from Robbie’s first eight matches in charge by beating Greenock Morton on Saturday.
And for inspiration they don’t have to look too far.
Just like United were going into Friday night’s clash, Ayr were riding the crest of a wave at the start of the season.
Seven wins and two draws from their opening nine fixtures of the campaign saw them continue the superb form that led them to the League One title last season.
That run included a 3-0 win at Dens Park against Premiership Dundee, where the Honest Men completely outplayed the top-flight side, and a 4-1 home win over a Dunfermline side that had started the campaign strongly, too.
Then, however, came their own shuddering halt to the form that had seen them sweep almost all before them on September 1 at Palmerston.
Queen of the South had enjoyed a fairly up-and-down beginning to the season and weren’t expected to be the first team to stop Ayr’s momentum.
A first-half blitz, however, shocked the rest of the Championship as Queens rattled up a four-goal lead inspired by their main man Stephen Dobbie and his partner-in-crime Gary Harkins.
A hat-trick inside 22 minutes had the Doonhamers cruising before Harkins curled in against his old side with 37 minutes on the clock.
Dobbie added a fourth in the closing stages to seal victory and give the Honest Men their first real test of the campaign.
Many expected the wheels to come off at that point, as has happened to plenty of teams before, and for the newly- promoted Honest Men to fall back down the table.
That looked the case the following week, too, as Falkirk, under new boss Ray McKinnon, raced into a 2-0 lead within 25 minutes at Somerset Park.
However, that’s where the rot stopped – something Dundee United will be keen to emulate this coming Saturday, though they’d prefer not to give hosts Morton a lead first.
The second half saw Lawrence Shankland find the net before a quickfire double from Andy Geggan and a Leo Fasan own goal gave Ayr the kind of response Robbie Neilson is desperate for.
From there, McCall’s side have lost just the once – to Ross County – and drawn with Queens and Morton to regain top spot in the table.
And they more than cemented that on Friday night at Tannadice.
The question now for Dundee United is whether they can emulate their title rivals by getting back on form as quickly as possible.
Victory against Morton would be one step closer to the manager’s goal of promotion while anything else would allow both Ayr and Ross County to open up a sizeable gap above the Tannadice club.
However, Ayr have shown the Tangerines how to recover from a hammering – the test for Robbie Neilson and his men is whether they can do the same to get that “boulder” out of their way, starting on Saturday at Cappielow.