This was never going to be Tynecastle II, the horror movie sequel that brought back the shivers of the season-opening shocker.
There was no chance Dundee would be as bad as they were that Friday fright night on October 16 as they lost 6-2 to the Jam Tarts in a chilling curtain-raiser to the curtailed Championship campaign.
Fast forward five months and the Dark Blues matched the Jam Tarts in everything but goals on Saturday. Spoiler alert: goals are, of course, the most important factor in football.
Players say things that sometimes you don’t agree with or even understand but Dens wide man Paul McMullan was spot on when he argued that, on another day, they would have taken at least one other chance and left Edinburgh with something to show for all their efforts other than a 2-1 loss.
The Dark Blues had a real go at the home team after their penalty goal, which was scored by Jason Cummings on 63 minutes to give them hope after Andy Halliday’s first half header and Armand Gnanduillet’s fluke had put the Jam Tarts two up.
The pick of their attempts was a Paul McGowan half-volley from the edge of the box that crashed back off the bar.
Sitting back in the deserted main stand, you had to conclude these two teams were much of a muchness.
There is no Rangers’ style gap in quality between the Jam Tarts and the clubs that now, admittedly, sit 15 points or more behind them (Dundee trail the leaders by 18).
Hearts won’t care but they just don’t look that great and there will be work to be done on this squad when they do come back up to the top flight.
After the weekend’s trip to the capital, the Dark Blues should be asking themselves how an average-looking Tynecastle team have been able to stroll away with the title as they have done.
Admittedly, Dundee did beat them at Dens on January 2 in convincing style but the hopes raised by that 3-1 result faded quickly.
The reality for manager James McPake is that, instead of going toe to toe with Hearts, they are in fifth spot – currently out of even a play-off position.
Raith Rovers lead them by three points and have a game in hand; Dunfermline have played the same number of matches and are three ahead of Dundee; and in-form Queen of the South now lead them by three having played two more matches.
That is frustrating when you see how the likes of Cummings and McMullan can trouble teams.
You do suspect that had this particular set of Dundee players started the season then the league table would have looked a lot different than it does.
Meanwhile, there will be more frustration this week when the Dens players sit in the house on Tuesday night instead of travelling to East End Park to face Dunfermline, with coronavirus in the Pars’ camp having forced a second postponement of that fixture.
That will give them more time to dwell on what could easily have been a draw at Tynecastle.
Dundee boss James McPake said: “Based on chances alone, I think we created as many as them.
“I thought we matched them for large spells of the game.
“They are a good side – that’s why they are top of the league – but we showed character to get back in the game at 2-0 down.
“And, when we got that goal back, there was only one team going to score.
“I’m proud but gutted for my players because of what they gave me.
“They have been here before and took a bit of doing but this time I am gutted on their behalf.
“The first time we were here this season I saw a set of players who didn’t turn up on the day and deservedly got battered.
“This time I saw a set of players who put everything into a game. They know they deserved something.”
Meanwhile, it is not a stretch to say McPake and Robbie Neilson are not exactly the best of pals.
One captained Hibs, one manages and played for Hearts. One is the boss of Dundee, while the other was the Dundee United gaffer that clinched promotion last season. As the Americans say, you do the math.
That’s why it wasn’t a surprise to see words being exchanged between the pair at full-time, in the wake of a late red card shown to home sub Peter Haring for a reckless challenge on Declan McDaid.
As you do in football-land, it was played down.
McPake said: “My player is fine, so it makes no difference to me what happens now.
“It was late in the game anyway. And Robbie is already out shouting ‘it’ll be rescinded’ so obviously he can see into the future.”
Asked if that was the reason for the difference of opinion, he replied: “No, there are other reasons.”
Neilson’s take on it was: “It’s just two managers desperate to win and two teams going for the league.
“Here, here you’re a yard and a half away from each other and everyone wants every decision, there’s always a wee bit of edge.
“To be honest, I quite like that but, once the final whistle goes, that’s it done.”
Sadly for McPake and Dundee, Neilson will be the one who gets the last word this season.