Dundee’s first task is done – now they are just two games away from the Premiership.
The Dark Blues couldn’t help putting their fans through the ringer, however, with an occasionally nervy semi-final second leg performance at Dens Park.
After Lewis Vaughan turned and fired the opening goal in after 21 minutes, there will no doubt have been some Dee hearts aflutter watching on from home.
Heading into the game with a 3-0 lead, few expected visitors Raith Rovers to have any chance of overhauling that deficit.
Aside from Raith themselves, that is.
The Kirkcaldy side arrived in the City of Discovery determined their excellent season wasn’t going to end with a whimper.
It certainly didn’t as they threw everything at the game.
Dundee, though, saw out the tie to book a place in the final but what can they take away from the 1-0 home defeat?
John McGlynn’s team set their usual passing possession style to one side after suffering in the first leg. Striker Gozie Ugwu led the line supported by Lewis Vaughan, Dan Armstrong and Jamie Gullan in a very attacking line-up.
Combative to say the least, Rovers weren’t afraid to leave a boot in on occasion – one moment in the first half saw Paul McGowan, Charlie Adam and Jason Cummings all left sprawling on the turf.
Man of the Match in the first leg, Adam was a target for consistent treatment, no leaving the former Scotland man free to pick out passes this time around.
However, despite the new tactics and improved performance from Raith, Dundee once more kept them at arm’s length.
Vaughan showed his quality early on but beyond that a shot from Armstrong deflected wide was the closest the visitors came to adding a second.
Overall, despite some nervy moments and hurried clearances, Dundee saw the tie out and did so well even if the overall performance wasn’t a patch on the first leg.
Jordan McGhee/Liam Fontaine
Neither Liam Fontaine nor Jordan Marshall were risked at Dens Park as they recover from hamstring injuries.
James McPake will be hoping he has them both – or at least one – available for the play-off final this week.
Because, as well as Young Player of the Year Max Anderson played against Raith, there’s no doubt Dundee missed the presence of Jordan McGhee in the middle of the park.
McGhee as a box-to-box midfielder has turned himself into an essential part of the Dark Blues system.
So much that Dundee continue to be unbeaten with McGhee in that role after he moved back into defence to cover Fontaine’s absence.
Fontaine’s power in the air was also missing and that, combined with his experience, could be key in the final.
Dundee’s skipper did the damage in the first leg, ripping the Rovers defence wide open with two sublime assists.
This time around he wasn’t going to get the time to pick out team-mates in behind.
And, once he was booked for a foul on Armstrong, the midfielder became a target for a second yellow card. Something that annoyed manager James McPake.
In fact, there were a couple of moments when it looked like he might be given his marching orders.
A handball in the first half saw referee Don Robertson reach for yellow and Adam’s hands go to his head – thankfully for Dundee and their captain, the yellow was only the cap of the referee’s foam spray.
With the result looking surer, manager McPake rightly took Adam out of the firing line with 15 minutes to go to avoid any suspension for the final.
Though the second leg defeat won’t affect the confidence of the Dark Blues too much, it may just have the positive effect of keeping feet on the ground.
The Dundee players will know just how hard a task awaits them in the final.
However, their nine-match unbeaten run in the league coming to an end could very well remind the players that being in form doesn’t mean things will necessarily go their way.
It’s not quite a reality check but a timely reminder that success will require every player to be at the top of their game over the next two games.
And it will possibly temper the expectations of a Dark Blues support desperate to see their side back in the top flight, a support that will be allowed back into Dens Park to cheer their side on this Thursday after 14 long months away.
But, make no mistake, over the season and two legs of their semi-final Dundee deserve to have the chance to return to the Premiership.
Now it’s up them to embrace their opportunity to win a place back in the top flight.