Dundee United’s struggles on the road were ended with an emphatic victory in the Highlands.
Robbie Neilson’s side had lost three in a row away from home and the last thing they wanted was to go into Friday night’s city derby with it being four.
This was the perfect performance and result ahead of the trip to Dens Park in a few days.
They will go there as league leaders and with their six-point advantage over the Dark Blues restored.
A Shaun Rooney own goal gave United a half-time lead and goals from Nicky Clark and Lawrence Shankland (a penalty) made this a far more comfortable afternoon than anybody would have predicted.
United had the first good chance of the game – a seventh minute Paul Watson header from a Nicky Clark corner that the defender should have found the net with.
They got their goal midway through the first 45 when Paul McMullan fired a low ball across goal, with Rooney’s attempted clearance diverting it high past Mark Ridgers.
Louis Appere was proving to be a dangerman and he was inches off target with a back post header.
Benjamin Siegrist’s new contract was announced on Friday night and he came to United’s rescue five minutes before the break with a magnificent reflex save to deny James Keatings from close range.
Three minutes after the re-start it was Mark Ridgers’ turn to excel when he tipped a fiercely-struck Ian Harkes 25-yarder past the post at full stretch.
Ridgers then kept out a Calum Butcher effort on 51 minutes after midfielder was picked out by Appere.
The game was effectively settled within 60 seconds.
On 71 minutes Keatings missed with a back post header that would have been easier to score and then on 72 Clark was lethal with an angled shot in the box to make it 2-0 to United.
The Tangerines were out of sight with 14 minutes left when Shankland scored from the spot after Liam Smith was brought down in the box.
Appere should have made it four when he went round the keeper but the angle proved to be too acute for him to get his shot on target.
United had the win they wanted and in the closing minutes they were able to give a few minutes of game-time to comeback defender Mark Connolly.