Saturday night, on the box, under the lights – Dunfermline at Dens Park could well be the match that defines Dundee’s season.
It’s a phrase used a lot in football but there’s no way to describe 2020/21 at Dens as anything other than a rollercoaster.
That means last week was one of those fast, squiggly bits that sees your stomach touch your throat before swiftly being dragged back towards the earth again.
Good against Arbroath then absolutely rank rotten against Ayr three days later and then excellent at Alloa just another three days after that.
Manager James McPake was under a fair bit of pressure after last Tuesday.
I wrote last week that the bad days were outweighing the good – and he promptly saw his team fire out a good one straight away.
Now the job for McPake is to try to bottle the kind of performance they put in at Alloa and repeat it consistently between now and the end of the season.
And to consign the Ayr United one to the bin.
Consistency is what the Dens boss has been striving for since he took over.
Last week, though, was this season in a microcosm – the only consistency being inconsistency.
However, put in another good showing at Dens on Saturday and Ayr can be forgotten.
I’ve banged on all season about how we’ll see the real quality in this Dark Blues squad before the end of the campaign.
Alloa was just one game but it has to be the foundation for what comes between now and May.
The basis of Dundee’s best league victory of the season came not in the goals scored but in keeping Alloa out.
Clean sheets have been like gold dust for the Dark Blues this season.
In the league they’d only had a ‘nil’ in the against column twice before last weekend – both at Dens, against Morton at the start of the season and then Arbroath in December.
In the space of three games, they’ve doubled that.
Alloa, Arbroath and Morton – the Dee have kept it clean against the teams near the bottom of the table.
Their task now is to keep shtum against the top sides.
And no better time than this weekend against the Pars.
Because we know with the likes of assist machine Paul McMullan and goal machine Max Anderson, as well as Charlie Adam, Osman Sow, Jason Cummings, Declan McDaid and Danny Mullen, this Dundee team will create and score goals.
In fact, I should have added Lee Ashcroft to that list after his super display on Friday.
I’ve rattled off a lot of names there – talent most teams in this division would love to have at their disposal.
The key now is keeping things nice and tight in defence.
Which way will the rollercoaster go now, though?
Will it be a dull train ride with no surprises that has us immediately asking for our money back?
Or are we slowly moving towards the big, exciting finish?
Beat the Pars and I can’t help but feel we are heading for the latter.
Pressure off for Dundee United – let’s see some goals
With safety all but assured for Dundee United, there wasn’t a huge amount of excitement around the release of their post-split fixtures.
For me, anyway.
Normally home fans would be annoyed at seeing their team given three away games.
However, since nobody is allowed in the stands anyway, it’s no big deal really.
Arabs will just have to do without the delights of DUTV on one of the matchdays.
It’s not been the most exciting of seasons for United and I’ve pointed out before in this column that it’s probably best they’ve saved this kind of football for when fans aren’t there to watch.
However, I’m hopeful they can shake off the shackles in the final five games of the season and really end things on a high.
There is obviously the Scottish Cup to bring a bit of excitement before the season ends.
But I would like to see Micky Mellon’s men start to strut their stuff against the bottom six.
At the very least, Lawrence Shankland needs to fire in some goals if he is to regain a place in the Scotland squad ahead of the summer.
With a bit of freedom afforded them after a good win over Aberdeen last week, let’s hope they can bring a bit of verve to the league finish.
At the very least they can revel in wrecking someone else’s bid for safety. . .
Slowly Scottish football pieces itself back together
It was fantastic to see Leagues One and Two back in action over the weekend as well as the Scottish Cup kicking back into gear last night.
It feels like Scottish football is beginning to piece itself back together bit by bit as we, hopefully, start opening society up once more.
The standout results for the weekend for me were Forfar getting themselves off bottom and Falkirk opening a four-point lead at the top in League One.
Then there’s Ray McKinnon’s Queen’s Park tearing away in League Two.
Good to have you back, boys.