Dundee’s 3-0 win over Alloa on Friday night was the perfect response to their abject Ayr performance.
The most important thing it showed for me was the players are still fighting for the manager.
James McPake has come under plenty of flak during his time at Dens Park but last week felt different.
There was real pressure on him and his team ahead of the trip to Alloa.
The season has obviously been far from perfect in the way the Dark Blues have stuttered through the Championship.
However, it was clear to me on Friday there is still belief in the manager among the players.
The players knew they had to step up and improve.
They did just that and it was a good night’s work for Dundee.
It’s not the first time the players have stepped up when the pressure has been on this season.
The huge frustration for everybody, though, is that they can’t put in performances like that every week.
You look at the table now and they are in a good position, considering how they’ve been underachieving.
Let’s face it – they’ve been bang average for much of the season.
Yet, they are in equal second in the Championship table.
And grabbing that runners-up spot is in their own hands.
I’m not saying the win at Alloa was scintillating football by any means.
But it was effective.
Going to the Indodrill Stadium is never easy, Dundee have found that before and Dundee United certainly didn’t enjoy their trips there.
The pressure was on the players after the Ayr defeat but they went about Friday’s game in exactly the right manner.
They worked hard, it was a good team performance and they took their chances.
There was a physicality and aggression about them, too.
That’s the kind of performance they should have been putting in since day one.
The epitomy of their display was Lee Ashcroft at centre-half.
He was so aggressive when attacking the ball at corners and he bullied the home defence.
Alloa have big, strong defenders themselves but they couldn’t handle big Ashcroft.
And I was pleased to see young Sam Fisher come onto a game beside Ashcroft at centre-back.
He looked a bit unsure of himself in the first half but you could see his confidence rise in the second half and he started to enjoy defending.
Earning himself a clean sheet was good to see.
But the clean sheet was the work of everyone on Friday – there was a different feeling about Dundee that night.
Before the game I did expect them to win but assumed they would concede, because that’s what Dundee do right now.
You could see from the centre-backs and goalkeeper Adam Legzdins, though, that they were determined to keep Alloa out.
More of that in the huge clash with Dunfermline on Saturday and Dundee might finally be turning the corner.
Mini-league for United now after the split – go win it
Dundee United may have just missed out on a place in the top six but I don’t think there should be many complaints about how the season has gone.
They obviously had a difficult spell in the middle of the campaign but I’ve been really impressed with how they’ve gone about their business recently.
And the goal to beat Aberdeen on Saturday summed up the way Micky Mellon’s team have been playing.
They’ve been pressing higher and getting about teams more recently.
Ryan Edwards has been excellent recently at winning the ball high up ahead of strikers and Jeando Fuchs’ effort and work-rate to keep the ball in paid off.
Then it was great play all-round to put the ball in the net.
The last two matches have been against Celtic and Aberdeen, with two clean sheets and four points picked up. Not bad.
Now, neither the Hoops nor the Dons are in a great place right now – I thought Aberdeen were very poor on Saturday – but you can see progress being made from United.
They never quite made the top six but I’d like to see them going all out to win the bottom six.
Treat it like a mini-league and try to win it, finish off the league season in a good, positive way and start thinking about next term.
Shankland’s Scotland chances are by no means over
I was surprised to see Dundee United’s Lawrence Shankland miss out on the Scotland squad.
Last week I wrote that I didn’t feel his competition for striker slots had been in great form recently but I guess Steve Clarke just wants to take a look at Kevin Nisbet this time around.
I don’t think the manager is done tinkering with the squad.
Thankfully for Shankland, that means his chance hasn’t gone.
However, it’s now up to the Tannadice marksman to prove to Clarke he deserves another shot in the national setup.