Dundee United’s frustrating and now long-term habit of not killing opposition hopes in games when they get on top might just have condemned them to a third season in the promotion play-offs.
Since beating Alloa 4-2 at Tannadice in November, the Tangerines’ nine league wins have all been by a single-goal margin.
The fear has been that, no matter how good any given performance was, eventually that failure to build bigger leads would eventually cost them dearly.
And that was the case in Dingwall on Friday when an impressive 90 minutes counted for very little as Championship leaders Ross County grabbed an equaliser deep in injury time and with it a point that will almost certainly decide the outcome of the promotion race.
Because what Jamie Lindsay’s dramatic strike over four minutes into added time meant was the Staggies maintained their five-point advantage at the top of the second tier.
If they can win their game in hand over United when they face Dunfermline tonight, the Highlanders will be on course to confirm a Premiership return with a couple of games to spare.
United, meanwhile, will be facing those play-offs and, if that means a route to the top flight remains open, so too does a repeat of the heartache of the past two years.
That an unwanted return to the post-season lottery was all but confirmed up at County was particularly irksome, simply because for all bar a few vital fleeting seconds, their play was arguably the best produced by any Championship side this season.
Never mind the draw, had the game finished with Robbie Neilson’s men victorious by just a single goal, in terms of reflecting how far ahead of the leaders they were, it would’ve been a travesty.
After the kind of frantic opening exchanges to be expected when the top two in any league meet late in a season, United took the lead in the 12th minute thanks to an exquisite Pavol Safranko strike after Ian Harkes had made the most of an error by home defender Andy Boyle.
Boosted by that, the visitors took a grip on the proceedings and, via a mixture of fine play and good game management, by the interval it seemed there was only going to be one winner.
United really should have gone in at the break two goals to the good when a superb Safranko pass was deftly flicked to Peter Pawlett by Paul McMullan.
From no more than seven or eight yards, however, the normally-expert finisher drove his shot against keeper Scott Fox.
McMullan had also gone close in that first half and in the second saw an angled drive rebound off the inside of the post.
It meant that when referee Steven McLean made the unfathomable decision to add six minutes of injury time, there was still some defending to do.
Having looked comfortable at the back for most of the evening, suddenly United became nervy.
When a Michael Gardyne cross was not dealt with, the ball finally fell to Lindsay. He netted and the way they celebrated while United heads slumped told you that, barring a catastrophic collapse by County in the next few weeks, the title race is over.
Given the superiority shown in the last three clashes of these two, that must be hard for Arabs to take.
But it should not be gloom and doom. If United, and given the inconsistencies of this term it has to be a sizeable if, can produce these levels between now and the end of their year, they would have a good chance of still going up.
As any fan will testify, however, the pressure that comes with play-off ties means producing your best football is not easy.