Following their Scottish Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Inverness Caley Thistle on Sunday, Dundee United boss Robbie Neilson hammered home the need to turn their focus back to league matters.
And that starts with this Saturday’s trip to much-improved Championship strugglers Partick Thistle.
The match at Firhill will see second-placed United go up against a host of familiar, and some potentially dangerous, faces as they look to continue their fight for promotion from the second tier.
The Jags, who were unbeaten in 2019 until losing their last two league matches, will provide a stiff test for the Tangerines after turning the corner under boss Gary Caldwell, with their position at the foot of the table belying their quality.
Here, the Tele takes a look at the key battles which could turn the game in the Terrors’ favour or leave their title dreams in tatters.
Nicky Clark v Steven Anderson
United striker Nicky Clark has been in fine fettle in recent weeks, notching four in his last five games, including three from the penalty spot, and will be hoping to continue that rich vein of form in Maryhill at the weekend.
He looks sharp after recent injury problems and provides an effective foil for Pavol Safranko. They will both be hunting for a goal from open play.
However, the former Rangers man will be in for a tough task up against St Johnstone legend Steven Anderson, currently on loan at Thistle, who has made an impact at both ends of the pitch since sealing a temporary move in January.
His solidity and leadership at the back has aided Partick in their resurgent run, while he has also chipped in with goals, too – one in a 2-1 league victory over Inverness and the only goal in a Scottish Cup success against East Fife.
Calum Butcher v Blair Spittal
Returning from cup suspension, midfield enforcer Calum Butcher will be vital to Dundee United in trying to control the game in the middle of the park.
He was a big miss in the 2-1 loss to ICT at Tannadice on Sunday and his influence in the engine-room will be important if United are to pick up away points.
His combative nature should allow more attacking talents like Peter Pawlett, Cammy Smith and Paul McMullan to operate, and he will also be key in nullifying Partick Thistle’s best player and biggest threat – former Dundee United man Blair Spittal.
The 23-year-old attacking midfielder has found the back of the net eight times in all competitions this season – seven of those in the league – and looks to be close to fulfilling the promise he has held since his days at United.
If they can keep him quiet, the Terrors could get away with grinding out a one-goal win – something they have been fond of lately.
Mark Reynolds v Scott McDonald
On-loan Aberdeen centre-back Mark Reynolds will have to be at his best to deal with the danger posed by veteran hit man Scott McDonald.
The two experienced men will hammer out an intriguing battle as the wily Australian looks to get the best of Reynolds and his former club.
McDonald notched 16 goals in all competitions for the Terrors last season, with the 35-year-old looking close to hanging up his boots after exiting Tannadice at the end of the campaign.
However, he has dusted them off and returned for Thistle, scoring on his debut – a 2-0 win against Alloa last month, a game in which Spittal also struck.