When it comes to ability, Willo Flood knows there isn’t a team in the Championship that can touch Dundee United.
But the hardy Irishman is also well aware the Tangerines are in a division where very often it’s being able to battle that earns points.
And, in the wake of the weekend defeat at Livingston, the club captain admits that, particularly on the road, he and his team-mates need to pay heed to one of football’s old adages.
“It’s that thing where you have to win the battle first and then the flair players will come to the fore for you,” he said.
“Probably because we have the better players in terms of ability, we want to get after teams from the off. Maybe away from home we have to keep things solid for the first half-hour or so.
“We didn’t do that at Dumbarton in the two games down there last season when we lost and we didn’t do it at Livingston on Saturday. It cost us.”
It’s a lesson, he believes, this year’s team needs to, and will, learn to keep their promotion challenge on track.
“We knew going to Livingston it was going to be a fight and I don’t think we matched them all over the park the way we should have.
“They had a lot of fight in them and then the goal helps them and gave them a lift we shouldn’t have allowed them.
“Maybe sometimes we probably need to be more compact. The first half-hour we need to keep things nice and tight and then start to play our football.
“Saying that, we never got our flair players involved in the first half. In the second, we got them involved and had more chances, but before the break we didn’t get them in dangerous areas.
“Second half we got the momentum. The gaffer made a change at half-time, pushed Billy (King) and Sam (Stanton) on and went 4-3-3.
“It seemed to work but then we gave away another silly goal and that’s cost us the game.
“That’s what happens at these places — it was the same at Dumbarton last season.”
Saturday’s performance left players, management and fans extremely frustrated. As the game slipped away, the team took plenty stick from a travelling support that made up over half the overall attendance.
For Flood, it was not an enjoyable experience but it is certainly not something he is going to moan about.
“The crowd are anxious because they want us to do well and there were a few shouts from them.
“That’s to be expected when you are at a big club like Dundee United.
“You just have to get on with it and the bottom line is we didn’t play well enough and we didn’t win the game, so we can’t complain.
“Down at Dunfermline, the fans were different class and rightly so because we played so well.
“We know if we play like we can they’ll be right behind us and they turn out in big numbers.
“And it’s frustrating that we can play so well in one game and then be poor in the next.
“It was a different type of game from Dunfermline — Livingston were right in our faces from the start.
“Dunfermline was more of a football game and we are more suited to playing footballing teams.
“We need to get our act together because when we play against teams that go more direct we have to be able to manage the games.
“We need to handle those games on a regular basis. We didn’t do that at Livingston.”