This was no ordinary day in the history of Dundee United.
The football seemed secondary to the coronavirus crisis that had engulfed the Tangerines.
On the journey through to the Tony Macaroni Arena on Saturday, you were wondering not about what the scoreline would be but whether or not the Tangerines would be able to field a Premiership side worthy of the name.
Nine players were self-isolating along with manager Micky Mellon and his entire first-team coaching staff, the result of positive Covid-19 tests for three members of the backroom team earlier in the week.
The lens was also focused on United after a team group photograph – 49 players and staff – emerged, showing a distinct lack of social distancing.
Suddenly, Scotland’s clinical director Professor Jason Leitch was asking questions about United’s formation in the picture rather than on the pitch.
It was then discovered the Tangerines weren’t alone in posing for the camera while the pandemic raged. Celtic had done a similar thing, also last month.
The financial cost of it all to clubs was perhaps encapsulated when not one but two United coaches – buses not humans – drove into the car park. They were required to keep everyone the required distance when seated.
Transport to and from football games is not cheap and you can imagine this is yet another burden on beleaguered bank accounts.
Inside the stadium, there was a pleasant surprise when the Tangerines’ team lines were handed out.
With Calum Butcher suspended, the only probable self-isolation absentees from the team that started against Hamilton Accies were Nicky Clark and Paul McMullan. The likes of Jamie Robson, Luke Bolton and Peter Pawlett were also missing from the matchday squad but it was still a strong-looking starting 11.
In charge in the United technical area was under-18s coach Thomas Courts, although he wasn’t really because technology ensured Mellon was able to pass instructions on from his living room.
Courts was like a proxy gaffer. The words were his but the message definitely belonged to Mellon.
Indeed, before kick-off the players tuned in to a Zoom call from their absent manager, a very 2020-style team talk.
Mellon in charge
Sitting at home watching a live feed of the game on screen, Mellon ordered the tactical tweaks and it was his call to bring on substitute Louis Appere for Dillon Powers after 68 minutes.
Neither Mellon nor Courts could do anything to stop United losing 2-0, however.
They began the match very well and went on to boss the first half, without grabbing the goal their dominance deserved.
Livi, on the other hand, were the beter side after the break and did make their possession count, scoring first through Scott Pittman on 57 minutes then captain Marvin Bartley with just over a quarter of an hour to go.
It was perhaps understandable that, after such a troubled time, United came up short on Saturday.
That did not make the result any less disappointing as it brought to an end an unbeaten run in the league that stretched back to Livi’s success at Tannadice on October 2.
The strangeness of the day didn’t end with the final whistle.
Trudging over the park came United midfielder Ian Harkes to conduct his media interview. He spoke while wearing a mask, which is not required.
Courts in spotlight
Courts, hitherto happily living outside of the limelight, was suddenly thrust in front of the mics and cameras to explain away the result.
The academy head of tactical performance did a decent job, even offering up a self-deprecating joke when asked about his absence from the infamous group photo.
Tongue firmly in cheek, he replied: “I feel like you are having a go at me because there are 49 people and I didn’t get an invite.
“It shows how highly rated I am at the club if there are 49 and I’m not there!
“I am outside the first-team bubble and it’s actually hard to even get close to them.
“I would say that is an indication of how well the club orchestrates their protocols. As an employee of the club who is at St Andrews (their training centre) every day, I hardly ever see the first team players.”
Despite the amount of people stuck at home, Courts insisted a cancellation of the fixture was never on the agenda.
“There was no discussion about getting the game postponed,” he said.
“It was never a consideration. We had enough players and we had experience on the pitch.
“We managed the game well and the boys looked like they had a lot of confidence.
“We were composed and playing in a controlled fashion but it was the proverbial game of two halves.
“We prepared well and for whatever reason the first 45 wasn’t replicated in the second half.”
Courts then revealed the level of Mellon’s involvement.
He said: “The gaffer gave a talk on Zoom before the game and he was orchestrating everything.
“Tactical alterations, subs…he had a direct line to the bench.
“We were just facilitating to help the players.”
As for following the Covid-19 protocols or otherwise, he defended the club when quizzed on whether or not they are watertight.
Courts said: “I have nothing to suggest otherwise.
“I can only go on the evidence of me being an employee at St Andrews and what I am allowed to do, where I am allowed to go, and us constantly barking at the younger players about social distancing and face masks etc.
“There is clearly a narrative at the club that is (a) zero tolerance policy.
“But, as you can imagine, it is really different circumstances that we are all operating in now and in life in general.
“We are in an industry that is still operating and all I can do is look after myself as an employee and look after the players to the best of my ability, and I think I have done that so far.”