Has Christmas come early for Dundee United fans? For once the answer to that question is they definitely hope not.
For most of us getting to unwrap a package in advance of the 25th of this month is a happy bonus but if the festive season has arrived early for Arabs this year, they won’t be happy.
That’s because last year, Christmas brought the first strong indication things under then new boss Csaba Laszlo were not going to work out.
Dismissing what was a largely irrelevant Irn-Bru Cup defeat against Crusaders, technically his first game in charge, an impressive start that had produced four wins and a draw was brought to a shuddering halt with a late December defeat against leaders and eventual champions St Mirren.
It was a reversal from which the Tangerines, and ultimately the gaffer, never really recovered.
From having the chance to hit the top of the table as they travelled to Paisley that night, within weeks, any chance of automatic promotion was effectively gone.
January this year brought a humiliating 6-1 defeat away to a Falkirk side who were struggling near the bottom of the Championship and the month ended with an almost equally painful home loss to Morton.
Coming as they did in the weeks following the Buddies clash, those were defeats that pretty much confirmed United were not getting back to the Premiership at the end of the season.
Now, under another new managerial appointment in Robbie Neilson, the team could be in danger of following a similar path to last term, albeit it a few weeks earlier.
Five wins and a draw into his reign, the other week saw a wake-up call like the one his predecessor received when leaders Ayr United came to Tannadice and dealt out a 5-0 thrashing.
That was alarming and the bells had barely stopped ringing before there was more concern as Robbie’s team squandered a lead at Morton last Saturday and had to settle for a draw. Festive flippancy aside, there is, of course, reason to believe the slide in results presided over by Csaba will not be repeated this time round.
Under the new boss, the Tangerines have looked better organised and with a clearer game plan than they’ve probably had since the early days of Jackie McNamara’s time in charge, or certainly since Ray McKinnon’s first term in charge.
Their style under this gaffer, by no means just blood and thunder, is more robust and therefore better suited to the physical rigours of Scotland’s second tier.
On top of that, and in part it should be said because of Csaba’s ability to identify decent talent, there can be little argument this season’s squad contains better overall quality.
In striker Pavol Safranko they have a front man of the calibre many teams even at top-flight level must be anxious off.
And wide man Fraser Aird has been another astute signing who, like Safranko, has really come into his own under the current boss.
There is also reason to believe his past, successful, experience of Championship football when he raced to promotion at Hearts means that come next month’s transfer window, Robbie will get exactly what he needs to strengthen the weaker areas of his team.
The impressive form of Ayr United does remain a worry and, as they showed at Tannadice the week before last, they have to be regarded as serious promotion contenders.
Ross County and this weekend’s opponents Inverness also remain challengers.
And another disappointment against them could have fans worried about that early Christmas gift.