Dundee are a different animal now after being “kicked from pillar to post” this season according to midfield lynchpin Shaun Byrne.
The Dark Blues are currently enjoying their best run this season with six games unbeaten having won their last three, the latest an impressive 3-1 victory over league leaders Hearts.
In fact, picking up 14 points from a possible 18 since the start of December is better form than Dundee have shown in Byrne’s time at the club.
The history books have to be turned back all the way to 2016 to see a longer string of positive results when Kane Hemmings and Greg Stewart were firing in goals on an eight-match unbeaten streak.
And, for Byrne, the display against the heavy favourites for the Championship title this term was one of the most enjoyable since he arrived at Dens Park last summer.
Now he’s determined to keep the good times coming in dark blue.
He said: “It’s definitely up there with the best team performances since I came here.
“We had a couple last year where we were good in spells but this is the first time since I’ve been here we’ve put in a right good run together.
“Last year we’d go two or three games, this is the first time we’ve kicked on a good bit and we are starting to show that we are a really good team.
“This team has been kicked from pillar to post at times as well so it’s good we are starting to get the rewards now.”
He added: “We’re six unbeaten now and the players are really confident, we are enjoying how we are playing and there is a real togetherness between the players and staff.
“Something feels different, I’m not sure what it is.
“Maybe after that Ayr game (where they lost 2-0) we got the reality check we needed and since then we’ve been a different team.
“A lot was said from the manager, the players stepped up and said stuff.
“Even though we were beaten by Hibs the week after, it was a positive performance and since then we’ve kicked on.
“There is a fighting spirit here. Everybody is together and that is starting to show.
“We are really confident but will take things a game at a time and try to keep building the momentum.
“We’ll see where that takes us at the end of the season.”
‘I went in hard’
That fighting spirit was embodied by Byrne in the opening minutes against the Jambos as he fired his team up with a full-blooded tackle on Hearts forward Steven Naismith.
The Jambos wanted a red card for the challenge as the Dens midfielder saw yellow but there’s no doubt the challenge set the tone for Dundee to take the game to their opponents.
A bit of argy-bargy followed before the Dark Blues took control of the game and raced into a two-goal lead.
Hearts got back into the game with a goal back early in the second half and Byrne was full of praise for his team-mates in keeping their shape and keeping the league leaders out before Jonathan Afolabi sealed the vital win with a late penalty.
In doing so, Dundee gained a measure of revenge for the humiliating 6-2 thrashing dished out by the Jambos on the opening day of the season.
Byrne and Co. were determined there would be no repeat of that this time around.
“In the first game we never laid a glove on them,” he added.
“They deserved to win that game 6-2 and we were really poor that night. The big thing on Saturday was making sure they knew they were in a game.
There was a chance to go and win the ball and I went in hard. I think everyone was pumped up after that so it was good.
“If you give good players time on the ball, they’ll kill you and Hearts have lots of good players.
“We knew we needed to get after them and we made it difficult for them in the first half. We had to dig in a bit more in the second.
“Thoughts go back to the Dunfermline game where we crumbled in a freak 12 minutes when Hearts got a goal back 10 minutes into the second half but we showed a real fight and desire to stay ahead.
“Then Jono stepped up to take the penalty brilliantly at the end.
“Hearts are top of the league for a reason because they have good players.
“We needed to get in their faces and make it uncomfortable for them. I think we did that from the first whistle.
“We showed a different side to us in the second half with a good shape, restricted them to few chances and Jack Hamilton made some unbelievable saves.
“It was a real top performance from everybody.”
Next up for Dundee is a Scottish Cup clash against minnows Bonnyrigg Rose before they are back to Championship action with a crunch game at fourth-placed Raith Rovers on Tuesday night.