Spirits are soaring at Tannadice after the 1-0 win over Hibs on Friday brought them to the Championship summit — now, though, they face possibly the toughest spell of the season.
The Christmas period is always a tester in any division but, for Dundee United, the next month promises to make or break their title push.
Over the next four weeks, the Tangerines face four away games out of five — the last of those is a trip to play promotion rivals Hibs at Easter Road.
Of the next four fixtures, only Raith are in the top half of the table but matches against teams battling against a relegation fight are the ones that more often than not maintain or derail a title charge.
The Tele looks at the pitfalls awaiting Ray McKinnon’s men over the holiday period in the Championship.
v Ayr United at Somerset Park
The Honest Men may not have been pulling up any trees of late, with just two points picked up from five, but they are holding their own in their first season back in the second tier.
And Somerset Park has always been a tough away day and wins over Morton, Falkirk and Queen of the South — three teams expected to challenge for a play-off place — show they can be a tough nut to crack.
The last meeting between the pair saw United run out 3-0 winners at Tannadice with goals from Simon Murray, Jamie Robson and Willo Flood.
v Raith at Stark’s Park
Like Ayr, Raith have picked up a few too many draws lately — their last three games in fact — but are unbeaten in six with wins over Falkirk and Queen of the South.
They’ve been stronger at home, too, with four of their six league wins coming at Stark’s Park.
Earlier in the season, United gave up a two-goal lead at Tannadice to draw 2-2 — Willo Flood and Cammy Smith’s penalty gave the Tangerines the lead before Jordan Thompson and Kevin McHattie levelled back in August.
v St Mirren at Tannadice
The Buddies have had a shocker this season — four points from 14 games is a miserable record.
By the time they head to the City of Discovery, new manager Jack Ross might have them firing but, on paper, it looks like a home banker and three points for the Tangerines.
v Dumbarton at Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium
The United squad won’t need telling how difficult going to the Rock can be — they suffered their first loss of the season down there in August as a Mark Docherty penalty gave the Sons all three points.
The Tangerines have since gained a measure of revenge with a 2-1 win in October. A Gregor Buchanan own goal and William Edjenguele effort was enough for the home side.
v Hibs at Easter Road
Dundee United have lost only once to Hibs in their last nine meetings (not including the penalty shoot-out in last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final) stretching back to 2012.
The Edinburgh side themselves face a difficult few weeks — home to Dumbarton, then away to Morton, followed by a home game against Raith and a trip to Falkirk.
Friday’s win was a vital one for the Tangerines but the next fours weeks are just as important and will sorely test United’s capabilities as a potential league winner.
Another factor that might affect whether McKinnon can bring in some new faces will be the lack of much-needed revenue from home crowds — if you extend the timescale, United have a punishing schedule of eight away ties from their 10 league and cup fixtures between now and the start of February.
That’ll need plenty of character, determination and quality to keep up their charge toward promotion over the coming weeks.