The death rattle of hope and ambition whispers hauntingly in the city air, as the football season nears its end.
Dundee FC’s precarious Premiership foothold and United’s tenuous promotion dreams are causing their fans sleepless nights.
Tannadice owner Mark Ogren’s recent investment may have to wait another season before any potential dividends are realised.
United today face revitalised Dunfermline, who are on a five-game winning streak under new boss Stevie Crawford, and then host runaway league leaders Ross County, who currently sit 11 points ahead of them, on Tuesday night.
Any lingering long shot hopes of winning promotion by first past the post might finally fall at either of those fences.
Early progress after the extensive January window signings has been dented by the league defeat at Partick Thistle and the Scottish cup exit to Inverness, which will also have been additionally painful in missing out on the pool of semi-final cash.
The management team running things for the American owner have to balance patience and pragmatism with the pressing financial necessity and need for the club to operate at the highest level.
United have to be in the top flight. Anything else is failure, and if they can’t achieve that soon, that could be very dangerous for all concerned at Tannadice.
If this season was a boxing match, Dundee’s basement battle would be the rumble in the jungle minus the heat.
A visit by league leaders Celtic on Sunday is likely to see the Dens Park side trying to punch well above their weight, and a serious going over to further bruise their survival hopes looks probable.
Both they and St Mirren, whom they lead by one point, have been the class softies in the scrap to date.
One win apiece in their last five matches indicates the serious lack of punching power and stamina of both teams, as they slug it out to survive.
Dundee’s aim must be to avoid finishing bottom, surviving the play-offs, and then embarking on a serious rebuilding summer programme, free of the frantic panic which typifies the January transfer window lottery.
I think Jim McIntyre will get it right given time, but he was asked to fight out of his division with the team he inherited at Dens, and at a time when properly restructured building of a side was extremely difficult.
There are good players on both sides of the street, but complete focus and organisation are now demanded of them.
Kipling said that triumph and disaster were two impostors to be treated just the same, but he should have stuck to poetry or making cakes, since he obviously never managed a football team.
Triumph for the Tangerines will be escaping the Championship any which way, while for the Dark Blues disaster will be losing their top flight status and the serious financial perils inherent in that.
Recent seasons have sorely tried the patience of both sets of supporters.
Neither half of the city is demanding the earth. They’re just asking that the players now give as much for the shirts as they would in the same position.