After a difficult start to the season, something approaching a feelgood factor has returned to Dundee United following victory over Queen of the South in the Championship and a dramatic success against St Johnstone’s kids in the Irn-Bru Cup.
This weekend the Tangerines will attempt to build on that by chalking up another success when Partick Thistle visit on the resumption of league hostilities.
As well as a chance to build on the new-found momentum, the Jags clash will also be a chance for Csaba Laszlo’s players to send out a message that Tannadice is once again becoming a place where visits are to be feared, not anticipated and relished.
While the general perception regarding the failure to secure promotion to the Premiership in each of the last two seasons has been poor away form has been the main cause, there is no question too many points have been let slip at home.
In all competitions, last season saw United beaten five teams on their own patch. Three of those defeats came against Inverness Caley Thistle, Morton and Queen of the South in league outings.
There were also draws against Dumbarton, Inverness and Dunfermline, meaning a total of 15 points that were expected to be taken were, in fact, shipped.
That proved crucial as United finished 13 points behind champions St Mirren and one adrift of second-place Livingston, meaning they kicked off at the first stage of the promotion play-offs, while Livi had the benefit of a two-week break before beating them in the semi-final.
Before last week’s Irn-Bru success with a side that was a mix of kids and fringe players, and against very young opposition, there was little to suggest this season would bring an improvement.
Over 90 minutes, the Tannadice outings in the Betfred Cup against Arbroath and Alloa were drawn and the opening day of league business ended in a painful 3-2 defeat against Dunfermline that saw the Pars dominate more than the final score suggested.
That United must improve at home start is important, not just in terms of their promotion challenge but also economically.
The new regime under chairman Mike Martin have invested in a new squad and that’s cost money, some of which they’d like to think will be recouped by fans paying at the gate to watch their team chalk up regular victories at home.
Decent income has already come from season ticket sales that are now approaching the 4,000 mark and, if that’s down on previous years, it remains a number that would be the envy of many Premiership clubs.
It would be no surprise, however, if that cash has already been spent on the rebuilding of the squad, making supporters who pay on turning up for games a vital source of further funds.
In not buying season books, many have adopted a wait-and-see policy so far as attendance is concerned. If United are going well they will come, if not, they’ll find something else to do.
That makes wins at Tannadice vital and, in fairness, despite the problems the team’s experienced there in the past 12 months, there are now some encouraging signs.
United looked impressive in Dumfries and could’ve scored more than the two goals.
And in new arrivals Pavol Safranko, Nicky Clark and Craig Curran, they have strikers who bring as close as anyone is going to get of a guarantee of goals.
A more direct style this term should also help, though, ultimately, the proof of this pudding is going to be in the eating.
Hopefully, from Saturday the fans can start getting tucked in to what becomes a regular menu of home wins.