Dundee have three reasons to be cheerful heading to McDiarmid Park this weekend – but a big one to be wary of, too.
The Dark Blues head down the A90 to take on St Johnstone on Saturday bidding to put their poor start to the season behind them by picking up a first three points of the league campaign.
Back-to-back league defeats to St Mirren and Aberdeen were compounded by a horror show at home to Championship Ayr as they were dumped out of the Betfred Cup with a 3-0 thumping.
That’s heaped unwanted pressure on manager Neil McCann to turn their form around but last season St Johnstone were very much a favourite opponent – one clash apart anyway.
The Dark Blues picked up nine points of their final 39-point total against Tommy Wright’s outfit, their best record against any side in the top flight.
On the whole it was positive from Dundee against Saints. However, there was one major negative – a 4-0 home thrashing dished out in March which ended in controversy.
So, let’s wind the clock back to last season and figure out what’s changed since:
Dundee 3-2 St Johnstone, September 16, 2017
With just one point to their name from five league games, the Dark Blues desperately needed something in the win column.
And, finally, amid a flurry of penalties they managed that with Sofien Moussa spot-kick adding to A-Jay Leitch-Smith’s double with Liam Craig knocking in two from 12 yards at the other end and Darren O’Dea being red carded.
This time around, though there’s less games been played, Neil finds his side in the same unwanted position with no wins to their name.
He also doesn’t have Leitch-Smith to knock in a double and it remains to be seen if Moussa re-appears this weekend after his mad quarter-hour last Saturday.
Of the XI that started that day, only Glen Kamara and possibly Lewis Spence and Moussa are still around to play this weekend.
St Johnstone 0-2 Dundee, December 30, 2017
One of Dundee’s most accomplished performances of the campaign came at McDiarmid just before Hogmanay.
An early Marcus Haber strike – one of just two in the whole campaign – put them in front and, after Richie Foster had seen red for trying to chop Paul McGowan in two, the Dark Blues proceeded to dominate the first half.
They did have to weather a bit of a Saints storm in the second half where Stefan Scougall cracked the bar.
However, in the closing stages Leitch-Smith popped up once more to clinch an impressive victory for McCann’s men.
That team included players like Jack Hendry, Scott Allan, Mark O’Hara and Jon Aurtenetxe – so far the current side haven’t been able to fill those boots.
Dundee 0-4 St Johnstone, March 10, 2018
The Dens men’s lowest point of the campaign saw a horrific performance as Saints swept them aside in a beating that could easily have been worse.
Poor Jordan Piggott’s one and only Dundee appearance saw him score into his own net before a Chris Kane double and one from Blair Alston made it a horrible night for the Dark Blues.
And to cap it off, a rammy between the two benches brought an unsavoury end to proceedings.
Dundee 2-1 St Johnstone, April 21, 2018
The bad blood rumbled on into this contest and that atmosphere seemed to fire Dundee up as they sealed a vital 2-1 victory with a Moussa double, including a late winner, doing the business.
The rivalry is still bubbling away ahead of this weekend but the question is whether this season’s players can to tap into that mindset and grab a much-needed three points.