Confidence is a priceless commodity for a striker.
It’s the fuel that turns hopeful runs into instinctive ones. It’s the difference between guessing where the ball is going to fall and somehow, magically, knowing it.
The best front men in the game – the guys who seem to repeatedly find themselves in the right place at the right time – all have it in spades.
And once the chances fall their way, their self-belief doesn’t shake. They know where the target is and they don’t fluff their lines.
It’s just what they do. They score goals. Inevitably and inescapably.
For years, Lawrence Shankland has been suggesting he’s cut from the same magical cloth as football’s top hit men.
Over the 112 games he has played for club and country between the start of the 2017/18 season and today, he has scored an incredible 93 goals.
Regardless of the level of competition, you simply don’t do that unless you’ve got something very special about you.
And after Shankland bagged the first Premiership goal of his career last weekend, I saw that thing with my own eyes.
It’s confidence of the most absolute kind. Quiet, yet completely unshakable.
There was the goal itself, of course; the way he peeled away from his marker, backwards, into space, as Logan Chalmers’ corner kick soared beyond him.
It was as if the Dundee United man had seen what was coming already, as if he knew the second ball was heading his way.
The finish that followed was sublime. A twisting, looping, dipping, unsighted, over-the-shoulder volley that 99 out of 100 strikers playing in Scotland wouldn’t even attempt.
Shankland is the one who would – and he’s the one who scored it.
When he walked up the stairs to the front of Tannadice’s Jerry Kerr Stand to face the media post-match, he cut an unassuming figure, as he usually does.
But asked whether his wonder strike had reassured him that his goalscoring gift hadn’t deserted him while he was out injured, he looked as if the thought had never even crossed his mind.
Deep down inside, on an elemental level, Lawrence Shankland simply knows what he is – a man who puts the ball in the back of the net.
The idea that it might stop happening isn’t an idea at all.
That’s what got him his goal last weekend. It’s what will get him more in the coming weeks.
He believes. And for as long as United fans have the privilege of watching him play for their team, they are entitled to believe too.
Last week it was Nadir Ciftci.
Now Dundee have been linked with another former United man in Osman Sow.
Needless to say, Tangerines fans would be far more comfortable if Sow signs up at Dens Park than a bona-fide cult hero like Ciftci.
The Turkish striker was a key man at a time when United were playing a historically swashbuckling brand of football.
For a time they were destroying all comers, racking up goals and leaving a trail of broken opponents in their wake.
Sow didn’t manage anything like that at Tannadice.
Don’t get me wrong – that’s not his fault.
Circumstances were very different by the time he became a United player.
But even if he’d arrived while the Tangerines were flying high, his injury issues would have denied him the chance to shine.
That will be the concern for Dundee, who have brought the Swede in on trial.
If he can stay fit, there’s a player in there who could do a job for Dundee.
But the evidence suggests that’s a fairly substantial “if”.
I tipped Celtic to win the Premiership this season.
It’s still early, but I’m already starting to doubt myself.
The Hoops don’t look like a team set to cruise to the title.
On the contrary, they look as though they’re a couple of dodgy results away from an implosion.
Rangers, on the other hand, have been seriously slick.
All of a sudden, the upcoming Glasgow derby looks huge.