Despite the major disappointment of the defeat at Ayr United, the consolation for Dundee United fans at the moment has to be the fact they have become genuine promotion contenders under Robbie Neilson.
The gap to the top of the table has stretched to six points again because of that Friday night loss at Somerset Park coupled with Ross County’s victory over Alloa on Saturday afternoon.
It can’t be forgotten United’s poor goal difference effectively means right now the gap to the top is seven points.
With just 14 games to go, time is also running out for United to make up the lost ground and clinch promotion at the first time of asking.
Boosted by the January signings that are set to continue in the final few days of the window, if they can gel quickly enough, Neilson will believe the deficit can by clawed back and, in a Championship race that’s seen every team drop points regularly, even a decent winning run could do that.
The manager’s overall record since he arrived in October does also give some reason for Arabs not to give up hope just yet.
Since his debut win at Partick Thistle in mid-October, with 26, his team are the leading points gatherers in the second tier.
By beating Alloa in Dingwall on Saturday, County took their points tally over the same period to 25 and while no one would argue the fact promoted Ayr are having an excellent first campaign back at this level, they have been showing signs of running out of steam.
Between their hugely impressive 5-0 win at Tannadice right at the end of November and their repeat success over United the other night, Ian McCall’s team had gone five league games without a win and also, of course, suffered that humiliating Scottish Cup exit at the hands of juniors Auchinleck Talbot.
If that, and the points tally under the new manager, provides encouragement, what continues to be a major concern for United is their poor record against the others at the top end of the table.
Friday was their fifth clash with the top two on league business and, to date, the record reads played five, lost four, won one, score two and conceded 13.
Add to that a League Cup loss up at County in July and what you have is a worrying statistic.
Without wishing to paint an even darker picture, they have also only drawn two clashes with Inverness with both coming when the Highlanders were sitting in one of the promotion play-off places.
If they are to realise American owner Mark Ogren’s dream of going up automatically during his first months in charge, it’s a statement of the obvious to say the big-game record has to improve drastically.
Should it, United can still get to where they want to be. They’ve two games to come against County and one final crack at Ayr and, of those showdowns, two are at Tannadice.
Yes, the two heaviest defeats of the season came there against County and Ayr but under Neilson that second defeat was the only one he’s suffered in seven home games so far.
And last time he sent out a team to face County he did mastermind what was without doubt the best win of the campaign to date, a gritty 1-0 success on their patch, in November.
If the manager can mould his rebuilt team over the next few weeks, wins like that one can be repeated.
They’ll have to be, or United’s big-game failures will see them negotiating even more vital outings in the play-offs.