Former Dundee United favourite Ray McKinnon is gearing up for what could be his biggest-ever game at Tannadice this week.
The ex-Tangerine playmaker and then manager brings his Falkirk side to his old club this weekend desperate for a result to avoid the drop to League One.
With United all but certain to finish in second spot, Saturday’s match will have a peculiar feel to it with the game meaning more to former Dundee United players than the ones currently wearing tangerine.
McKinnon is the gaffer, of course, and knows only too well the trouble his side are in after they were sent to the bottom of the table with a 2-0 home loss to Greenock Morton at the weekend.
That match was billed as one of their biggest of the season with a win allowing the Bairns to leapfrog their opponents.
However, that never looked likely as the Ton swept to victory with another former Tangerine, Charlie Telfer – a McKinnon signing for the Greenock side – scoring one and playing a part in the other.
After the defeat, he said: “We’ve got two games to go and we’re going to have to play a lot better if we’re to salvage something.
“We need to re-group and make sure we’re in far better form going into the last three games.
“We have to believe we can make it out of this. There’s two games to go and we have to make sure we win two games, or one at least.
“That will be the message to the players, that they have to do that.
“We’ll have to do it ourselves but we’ve known that from January onwards. We had to go and dig it out.
“We have to re-group and make sure we’re back at it for the last two games.”
With him in the mire are players Paul Dixon and Paul Paton, who enjoyed far more successful times while with the Terrors than they are with the Bairns right now. William Edjenguele, meanwhile, can’t play against his parent club after moving to Falkirk on loan in January.
Saturday was a disastrous day for Ray & Co. as their 2-0 home defeat to Morton was compounded by wins for Partick Thistle and Queen of the South to drop the Bairns to bottom spot.
Their last two matches begin with the trip to face his former side Dundee United and then it’s champions-in-waiting Ross County on the final day.
McKinnon’s previous return to his old stomping ground wasn’t a positive one – Sam Stanton and Pavol Safranko goals saw United win 2-1 with Paton sent off early in the second half for Falkirk.
He did gain a point in the last meeting with United, a 1-1 draw at home with the first meeting of this season also ending in a Tangerine victory, 2-0 that time with Safranko once more on the scoresheet.
The Tangerines inevitably are likely to take their foot off the pedal with the fitness of key players for the end-of-season play-offs, that kick off for them on May 15, more important than points.
Whether McKinnon, Dixon, Paton and the rest can take advantage of that, however, is another question entirely.
And McKinnon will be hoping he has better luck in this big end-of-season clash than he did when he was in the other dugout.
When leading United in the play-offs after a third-place finish in 2017, the Dundonian saw his side twice pegged back by current club Falkirk before a 0-0 draw with Hamilton followed in the final, as his team finished with 10 men after Simon Murray’s red card for diving that was later rescinded.
Whether he’s lucky or not, it’s one of the biggest matches of McKinnon’s managerial career – and it’s his hometown team that stand in the way of survival.