The hectic Christmas period can often make or break a club’s season.
For Dundee in 2021/22, it could break their players.
The fixture boffins at the SPFL have not been kind to James McPake’s side over the next few weeks.
If watching the Dark Blues in action is what gets you up in the morning then November will be a sleepy month.
Because after this weekend’s clash with Celtic, Dundee have only one more match before advent kicks off.
They will then have to wade through a massive seven Premiership matches in December, including trips to Ibrox, Easter Road and Pittodrie (see below).
And shortly after we break into 2022 there’s the small matter of the second derby of the season on January 2 at Dens Park before the league takes its winter break.
So, what effect might this famine and then feast of football have on Dundee’s season?
After this weekend, there is the final international break of the year.
The fixture, though, that has caused the imbalance was the trip to Hibs, originally slated for November 20.
That’s been moved due to the Hibees’ Premier Sports Cup semi-final against Rangers on the 21st.
With three weeks between fixtures after Sunday, there will be plenty of time on the training pitch for the coaching staff, something rarely moaned about by managers.
What it will do is give a welcome break to some of the Dundee players carrying knocks.
McPake mentioned this week Jordan McGhee is “carrying wee niggles” they are looking for him to shake off in the upcoming break.
And he won’t be the only one at this stage of the season.
The big opportunity for the Dark Blues, though, is to finally get Leigh Griffiths up to speed.
There have been flashes from the Scotland man in recent weeks, not least the vital goal against Aberdeen.
But he still isn’t yet the player he once was.
He is ineligible to face his parent club this weekend so Dundee have a month to get as much fitness work into him as possible.
If the 31-year-old comes out the other end of this enforced break flying, the Dark Blues will be in business.
In November there will be time to shake off niggles. In December, there will be none.
With three midweek cards in the space of four weeks, rest time will be short.
And the Dens Park squad will be stretched.
Already out for certain are attackers Cillian Sheridan and Alex Jakubiak. Midfielder Shaun Byrne has a chance of playing some part.
There are key departments, though, were injuries or suspensions could cause real problems.
In defence, Lee Ashcroft and Ryan Sweeney are building up a strong partnership. Though Liam Fontaine has plenty of experience, losing either of those two would be a problem.
At full-back, too, there isn’t a lot of cover. Young Corey Panter is yet to feature in the league for Dundee while Christie Elliott has been out of favour until a brief appearance at the weekend.
Byrne’s absence has made midfield tight on numbers but, were Paul McMullan to be out, the dynamic of the team would change significantly.
Up front the options are there.
With that many games to navigate, an element of luck comes in when avoiding injuries.
And that could be the difference between Dundee heading into the winter break with their heads above water or playing catch-up.
Dundee v Celtic – Sunday, November 7
Dundee v Motherwell – Saturday, November 27
Dundee v St Johnstone – Wednesday, December 1
Rangers v Dundee – Saturday, December 4
Ross County v Dundee – Saturday, December 11
Hibs v Dundee – Tuesday, December 14
Dundee v Hearts – Saturday, December 18
Aberdeen v Dundee – Sunday, December 26
Livingston v Dundee – Wednesday, December 29
Dundee v Dundee United – Sunday, January 2