It feels like it’s been so long since they played that I can’t remember what a Dundee team looks like.
It’s now been 18 days since the Dark Blues took on Raith Rovers.
The enforced hibernation has brought back bad memories of the middle of last year during the first lockdown.
Nowhere to go and no Scottish football to brighten things up with its madness at the weekend.
Those couple of months when the Premiership was back and we all had to wait for the lower leagues to begin again were torture.
It feels like that all over again.
I may have forgotten what a Dundee team looks like but the good news is the next game they play it’ll certainly be something different.
Since I last covered a match almost three weeks ago, the Dark Blues have added Jason Cummings, Paul McMullan and Malachi Fagan-Walcott to their ranks.
Just look at the squad McPake has amassed at Dens Park.
Of course there’s Charlie Adam and the quality and mentality he brings.
But there’s also Osman Sow, looking like his old self once again and among the goals.
Shaun Byrne is a Premiership midfielder playing in the second tier.
Liam Fontaine is very experienced, has won this division as well as the Scottish Cup.
And Paul McGowan and Jordan Marshall would be main men in pretty much any squad in the Championship.
Add in the likes of Cummings, McMullan and Fagan-Walcott and that’s a formidable squad.
One that shouldn’t be worrying about getting into the top four anyway.
However, that could be the case over the next week as they take on sides below them in the table.
Fingers crossed with the weather of course but first it is Queen of the South on Saturday, then that Ayr match that just refuses to be played on Tuesday and Morton away the following weekend.
As we’ve seen in the Championship all too often, names and past successes mean very little in this league.
A look at Queens last Friday tells just that – runaway leaders Hearts were lucky to come away with a point at Palmerston.
That’s a Jambos side that had 153 international caps out on the park (194 if you add unused sub Christophe Berra).
This is the crunch time in the season for Dundee – the time where they have to demonstrate they have serious ambitions of winning promotion through the play-offs.
To have any chance of catching Hearts, it was vital they backed up the January 2 win with more victories.
However, one point from six has let the Jambos off the hook.
Now, with added firepower through Cummings and McMullan – two winners of this division – it’s time for Dundee to show what they are really about.
Only wins will do in the weeks to come.
Shankland form couldn’t be better timed for United – or the Euros in the summer
There have been signs over the past couple of weeks.
However, Saturday’s performance saw the Lawrence Shankland we all expected to see in the top flight.
It’s taken him a bit of time but the two goals against Livingston on Saturday were well-taken – and the second was one of real quality.
There’s probably been a combination of factors as to why Dundee United’s man main hasn’t been finding the net this term.
The step up in quality from the lower leagues can’t be ignored, defences in the Premiership give you far less than in the Championship.
But also the United team this season has found it really difficult to provide the service a striker needs.
It’s not like Shankland has been firing chances left, right and rarely centre this campaign – he’s barely had any.
Suddenly, though, the Tangerines have taken a positive step forward and the chances are coming.
Three goals in his last two bringing the tally for the season to seven.
That’ll be short of what he personally would like in a campaign.
However, I absolutely expect the 25-year-old to get into double figures in the Premiership – for a first season in the top flight, that’s pretty good going.
And, with Euro 2020 places at stake this summer, Shankland’s return to goalscoring form couldn’t be better timed.
Pacy Queens will be a real test for Dee
Dundee face a tricky test this weekend – providing the weather plays ball anyway – against my team Queen of the South at Dens.
Injuries have hit the Doonhamers hard of late but Allan Johnston has us well-organised and with a real threat on the break with the pace of Dapo Mebude and Isaiah Jones.
We’ve been in good form, though failing to beat both Arbroath and Alloa still leaves us in trouble.
Since the last meeting of the sides on Boxing Day, Queens have been a different side.
One that will be heading to Dens this weekend confident they can upset the Dark Blues.