Bottom of the league and without a win, Dundee’s performances had been the silver lining around an early-season cloud.
That, though, disappeared on a desperate day at McDiarmid Park with the clouds most certainly darkening around Perth.
A thrashing at Celtic Park aside, this was by far the worst performance of the season for the Dark Blues.
And one that raises the spectre of an impending relegation battle for James McPake and his men.
Often this season, displays from the Dark Blues hadn’t earned the results they could have – at St Johnstone the performance got exactly what it deserved.
After a positive response from his team in moving to 3-5-2 against Rangers last week, boss McPake stuck with the same set-up.
It didn’t work, however, against a St Johnstone side who have mastered the back three over the past year.
An even game with little quality swung the way of Callum Davidson’s side after they picked a hole in the left side of Dundee’s defence not once but twice.
With no goals in the last five games, another goal-less half had come and gone for the Dark Blues. This time, though, there hadn’t been any missed chances to rue.
There was no connection between the midfield three and the front two of Jason Cummings and Paul McMullan.
Dundee just didn’t have the quality to trouble the Perth side.
The return to fitness of captain Charlie Adam can’t come soon enough for the Dark Blues.
Similar to the Premier Sports Cup clash 10 days previously, Dundee’s response to going behind against St Johnstone wasn’t a good one.
That’s as much to do with confidence as quality or tactical set-up.
The run they’d been on before this game, no goals in five and no league wins all season, eats steadily away at the morale of a team.
After promotion, confidence was sky high but getting little for your good work can only damage that.
And results like Saturday’s will leave a team’s confidence in a fragile state.
The big job for manager McPake is to keep his players believing they can get wins in this division.
The credit built up by the Dundee manager through their promotion run is beginning to erode among the fanbase.
No league wins in eight matches will do that, certainly.
However, the manner of defeat on Saturday takes supporter disgruntlement to a new level.
The Dens boss welcomed the chance of a break next weekend to get two weeks’ work into his players before facing Aberdeen.
He knows – and he’ll certainly be making sure the players aware – that too many more days like McDiarmid Park will only have the team heading one way.
Dundee owners Tim Keyes and John Nelms, though, prefer to back rather than sack and their faith in McPake is unlikely to be wavering any time soon.