It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
How can Dundee United be sitting at the top of the Championship after being pummelled 4-0 at Palmerston by Queen of the South?
Surely that is relegation form rather than the stuff promotion dreams are made of.
The answer, of course, is that they have sometimes been a very good team this season.
On Saturday, they were a very bad team. A very bad team indeed.
Goodness knows how any punters win on the fixed odds nowadays.
Bet on Robbie Neilson’s men and how can you be sure which team in tangerine will report for work. As Eminem might have asked: ‘Will the real Dundee United please stand up, please stand up, please stand up?
Just how can they go from being the slick machine that dismantled Morton with six goals or the side that scored half-a-dozen in a Dundee derby for only the second time in the club’s history to such a shadow of themselves on Saturday?
Three straight away league losses have certainly burst the bubble of optimism that was covering Tannadice until recently.
No one knows that more than manager Robbie Neilson, who spent a lot longer than usual pointing it out to his players in the dressing room after the game.
Neilson, who had been celebrating his new deal just two days earlier, said: “It was miles off where we need to be and want to be.
“You lose two poor goals from setplays and it is always going to be uphill from there.
“We created some good chances in the game but didn’t take them.
“So if you are going to give away poor goals and not take opportunities when they come then you are going to lose football matches.
“We spoke about it with the players.
“Gone are the days when you start chucking things about left, right and centre so we talked about it.
“We agreed to a man – players and staff – that we weren’t at it.
“As a collective, we didn’t defend well enough and we didn’t attack well enough.
“If you combine those two things together then you get what you get from the game,” he added.
“We are all disappointed that we brought another big support down but didn’t perform.
“But you have to look at it and we have three games coming up in a week.
“We do have an opportunity to turn this around.”
Maybe so and United do return to their own stadium for their next two matches against Dunfermline and Partick Thistle.
Neilson was asked why there is such a contrast between the home and away form.
He replied: “I think the majority of teams are like that, to be honest.
“You go away from home and winning is very difficult to do.
“We have had two very tough away games recently on astro pitches. You need to adapt your game for that and we didn’t manage to do that.
“We have home games coming up now at Tannadice, where we have a really good record, so we are looking to do better.”
He was then asked if it was surprising to see his team still leading the Championship despite this latest shocking loss.
He added: “I don’t think it’s remarkable.
“We had a fantastic start to the season and maybe that’s why we are still there.
“We have had the first quarter and we are top of the league and if you give me that at the end of the season then I’ll be sitting happy.
“Nobody is going to go through the whole year winning every single game. People drop points all the time.
“We have 18 and we would have liked more but that has kept us top of the league.”
That United are still at number one is down to their rivals’ inability to capitalise, with Inverness drawing at home to Alloa and Ayr losing at Dunfermline.
The Tangerines were far too meek in the middle of the park and soft at the back. In particular, they couldn’t cope with crosses into their own box and this was a scoreline that didn’t flatter the home team.
Goals from Stephen Dobbie and Kevin Holt had the hosts on easy street by half-time. Dobbie added a third then Michael Paton a fourth after the break as the 726 travelling fans were left wondering what on earth has happened to their team.
New Scotland man Lawrence Shankland had gotten the action under way for the visitors and it was all downhill from there.
Louis Appere, playing alongside Shankland up front, looped a header over in United’s first attack on four minutes.
The hosts came much closer than that on 13 minutes, though, when Jack Hamilton’s shot on the turn from 25 yards just cleared the United bar.
On 18 minutes, the Doonhamers took the lead thanks to Dobbie’s first league goal of the season.
It was a bad one for United to lose, with Darren Brownlie able to head the ball to the veteran striker at the back post and he nodded it into the net.
The opener may have come against the run of play but they should still have had Dobbie well marked so close to goal.
Shankland shot over for United before Appere was on the floor inside the home box on 22 minutes after he charged down an attempted clearance by keeper Robby McCrorie.
Just a minute later Holt smacked the visitors’ bar with a strike as Queens threatened to extend their lead.
They did just that on 28 minutes and it was another poor goal for United to concede. A corner was delivered from the right by Faissal El Bakhtaoui and Holt’s powerful downward header gave United goalie Benjamin Siegrist no chance.
Appere should have got one back for United on 31 minutes when he had only McCrorie to beat but the goalie saved with his legs.
United defender Troy Brown nodded over from close range then, up at the other end, El Bakhtaoui found Holt with another corner and Siegrist parried before the ball was booted clear by Shankland.
The Doonhamers came close to a third again on 52 minutes when Dobbie’s pass cut open United’s defence but Paton could only fire into the side-netting.
United finally created their next decent opening on 58 minutes but Appere’s strike flew wide of the far post.
The stage was then set for Dobbie to deliver the Doonhamers’ third goal on 71 minutes and put the match way beyond United.
He bobbed and weaved inside the box before shooting low past Siegrist to end the fixture as any kind of contest.
Paton added a fourth from close range on 78 minutes after Siegrist spilled a shot from El Bakhtaoui and it really was game over.