It’s a week one clash between a pair of teams with designs on promotion.
But Dundee boss James McPake doesn’t expect Friday’s tussle with Hearts to fire the starting gun on a two-horse race for the Championship title.
Former Dundee United boss Robbie Neilson’s Jam Tarts are odds on with the bookies to top the second tier come May.
The Dark Blues are second favourites.
However, Dee gaffer McPake reckons there are serious sides in the Championship outside of Edinburgh and Dundee –and they will all do damage to the league’s big two.
“People might think it’ll be ourselves and Hearts going head to head this season – but ourselves and Hearts won’t think that,” he said.
“Look at the other teams, there are some dangerous teams in the league. We saw it last year.
“Obviously Hearts are the biggest club in the league. I dont think that’s up for debate.
“But we’ll allow people to say whatever they want. There’s a lot more than just us and Hearts in the league.
“It’s definitely not just a two-horse race. That’s me being honest.
“I saw enough last year to know that all the teams in this league can cause you problems.”
Like every other team in the Championship, the Dark Blues have endured a long wait for the return of league football.
The prospect of a trip to Tynecastle on opening night has long seemed an appealing one to McPake.
But it’s only this week that he has allowed himself and his players to make it their main focus.
He said: “There’s excitement. The first league game is what you look forward to when the fixtures come out,” he said.
“I could probably have predicted it would be Hearts first with the way it went on all summer.
“Look, it doesn’t matter at what time of the season you go there, it’s going to be a big game.
“But all the games are important and that’s why we couldn’t look too far ahead because we had what we thought were going to be two important Betfred Cup games to deal with first.
“Still, it was an exciting one and it’s one we’re looking forward to.”
Hearts’ odds-on status to win the league before a ball has been kicked speaks of how strongly fancied they are by punters and pundits alike.
With such weight of expectation comes pressure.
But when McPake looks at the personnel Robbie Neilson can call upon, both on and off the field, he doesn’t foresee Hearts crumbling.
“It doesn’t help us that they’re favourites to go up. Not for me,” said the Dee manager.
“They’ve got players in there that have won the league, they’ve got experienced players and an experienced manager, so I don’t think that comes into it.
“It doesn’t help us in any way because we’ve got an expectancy here too, from our fans and internally with the squad we’ve got.
“So I don’t think it matters who’s the favourite or who’s the underdog. It’s the same when Alloa come here. No disrespect to them, but they gave us real trouble when we played them last season.
“Hearts will get trouble from every team that comes to Tyencastle and from every team away from home. It’s just that type of league.”
Dundee are well enough used to the Championship to know what to expect from most of its teams.
Hearts, being newly relegated and reshuffled, are an exception.
However, the Dark Blues have had representatives at all three of the Jam Tarts’ Betfred Cup games so far.
And McPake insists he’s more concerned with setting his own team up on Friday night to do some damage rather than merely counteracting Hearts.
“We’ve seen Hearts play Inverness, we saw their game on Saturday and Dave Mackay saw them against Raith Rovers,” McPake said.
“They’ve got a big squad and they’ve still got players on international duty as well.
“We’ve got our ideas of what will happen and they’ll have their ideas of what we’ll do.
“But our big focus is on us and how we can go down there and be good in the game. A lot of our work is on that.
“Like with any team you play, there’s a bit on how we think they’re going to set up, but they’ve got that big a squad they can rotate and they’ve been different in every game.
“But we’ve seen enough of them.”
The truncated nature of the Championship season – teams will play only 27 games – makes every point that much more valuable.
Getting off to a quick start will be a priority for every side in the league.
But maintaining form will be key too – a fact that is not lost on McPake.
“There’s not so much room for error,” he warned.
“It’s inconsistency you need to avoid, particularly from us – that’s what went against us last season.
“We were really inconsistent at times and we can’t afford that this year.”