After eight long months, 30 matches and more ups and downs than a soap opera, Dundee are just one match away from the Premiership.
Though manager James McPake insists Kilmarnock are still favourites to win the play-off final, the Dark Blues head to Rugby Park with a 2-1 lead.
The weather was wet and windy but there were no dampened spirits after a focused and formidable Dundee performance that saw them dominate their top-flight opposition.
Energised by a noisy 500 fans in the stands, the only disappointment for the Dens men is they aren’t heading into the second leg with a bigger advantage.
But for some good saves from Killie keeper Colin Doyle, they may well have been out of sight.
However, the tie is still finely poised heading into the second leg.
So what did we learn from the first 90 minutes that might tell us what to expect in the second meeting?
There’s absolutely no doubt the return of supporters and the atmosphere they generated brought extra verve to the Dundee performance.
And the players lapped up every ounce of the support from the stands, making a point after their warm-up to wander through the Killie players’ preparations to the other side of the ground.
It was a gesture of thanks from the players to supporters after a long, hard year but the roar it generated from the Bobby Cox Stand spurred their favourites on.
There was a crunching tackle from Shaun Byrne on Greg Kiltie inside 30 seconds that sparked the atmosphere.
And within seven minutes the home crowd were cheering their first goal seen live since Kane Hemmings’ winner against Ayr on March 10, 2020.
Every tackle, run forward, defensive block and even throw-in won was greeted by cheers of encouragement.
The manager and players said they felt there were more like 5,000 there than 500 and the supporters most certainly played their part in victory for the Dark Blues.
The question now is whether Kilmarnock’s home support can have the same effect at Rugby Park on Monday night.
Having Liam Fontaine back in central defence was a huge plus for James McPake and his side.
That saw Jordan McGhee pushed back into the midfield role he’s been so good in this season and that paid off with the opening goal.
The other big call made by the manager was the choice of striker.
Jason Cummings and Osman Sow are the big-name frontmen and are the joint top scorers this term.
However, Mullen is just one behind them in the scoring stakes and brought an energy to the frontline that proved so crucial.
Much of Dundee’s joy came from harrying the Killie backline, forcing mistakes from a defence that has proved so brittle this season.
The former Livingston and St Mirren frontman was the first line of that defence and powered through a massive amount of work.
Though he’s the shortest of the three, Mullen is more of a threat in the air than both Cummings and Sow and that was crucial at times as well with conditions meaning few chances were taken in defence.
He proved that with the opening goal, bringing a top save from the goalkeeper that gave McGhee the chance to bundle in the rebound.
Sometimes it was a case of punting the ball forward and playing from there – that requires a forward fighting for everything and Mullen is the man for that task.
He showed that again, though it proved the undoing of the Dundee defence when he moved to the right wing after the introduction of Sow.
Chasing back to help out, Mullen threw himself in front of a shot from Killie’s Brandon Haunstrup only to see the ball fall perfectly into the full-back’s path, allowing him to score.
Though he didn’t manage a goal, the striker played a key role in the victory.
Throughout the first leg, Tommy Wright’s side were a shadow of the team that finished in third place just two years ago.
Looking shorn of confidence throughout, how they find themselves on the brink of relegation was clear at Dens Park.
Early on their tactic seemed to get balls down the side and in behind Dundee’s centre-backs Fontaine and Lee Ashcroft for dangerman Kyle Lafferty.
Aside from an early effort from the Northern Ireland international, the Dark Blues shut that door and kept the striker quiet throughout.
Killie’s quality is in their frontline but Haunstrup’s goal was their only shot on target – and that came with more than a little luck.
On their home turf with fans at their backs, Dundee are prepared for a much-improved performance from their Premiership opponents on Monday night.
Against this Dark Blues side it’ll need to be.
Conditions surely can’t be as bad on Monday night at Rugby Park as they were at Dens.
However, the message is likely to be ‘same again, boys’ from manager McPake.
Sitting on a lead hasn’t been Dundee’s forte this season and it’s unlikely to be the game plan for the second leg.
The Dark Blues showed with the energy of Mullen, McGhee, Byrne and McMullan they weren’t going to let Killie have any easy possession.
With confidence low for the Premiership side that has to be continued throughout the second 90 minutes.
Not one Dee came out of the first leg with anything less than an eight out of 10. That’ll be the requirement again in the second.
Avoiding defeat at Rugby Park will see them back in the Premiership.
Just one match away, Dundee are on the verge.