Dundee threw down the gauntlet on Friday night.
On Saturday afternoon Dundee United picked it up and Inverness Caledonian Thistle got smacked in the face with it.
Was this United’s best performance and result of the season?
In the circumstances, I would say: ‘Yes’.
Every obstacle the Tangerines could be asked to overcome was there – doubts inside and outside the camp created by three away defeats in a row, horrible conditions to play football in that required a 12 noon pitch inspection, a strong, title-challenging opponent and the extra pressure of your biggest rivals winning late in the game the night before.
Pre-match adversity like that – and a three-goal scoreline rarely seen in Inverness – trumps the 6-2 against Dundee in terms of substance.
It was probably Ian Harkes’ best performance in a United shirt, maybe Paul Watson’s also.
You would have struggled to name three players who were making an emphatic case to keep their jersey after the debacles of Alloa and Dumfries but heading to Dens on Friday night it would be a shock if Robbie Neilson doesn’t stick with the starting XI in Inverness. There wasn’t a failure among them.
United fans who endured the defeats at the Indodrill and Palmerston will appreciate that the biggest compliment their team could be given was a comment made to me after the match by a Caley Thistle regular.
“United are a really physically strong team, aren’t they?”
Music to Arab ears.