Dundee United’s 6-2 demolition of Dundee wasn’t manager Robbie Nielson’s most satisfying game of the season.
In fact, it wasn’t even his favourite derby.
That came in the second clash between the city clubs at Dens Park on November 8, when the Tangerines ran out comfortable 2-0 winners thanks to Nicky Clark’s penalty and a strike from Lawrence Shankland.
It is perhaps surprising that hitting your local rivals for six back on August 30 does not get the nod but Nielson has his reasons.
The United boss explained: “I actually thought the game at Dens was better for us.
“I thought we controlled it more.
“The scoreline in the first derby at Tannadice was great but when you actually looked at the whole game we probably weren’t in as much control as we would have liked.
“In the second game at Dens we looked quite strong and it is difficult to go to your rivals across the road and have quite a bit of the game.”
Even if Neilson believed it will be as comfortable for the Tangerines this time as it has been in the previous meetings, he wouldn’t admit it. He is far too sensible to do that.
You do feel, though, that he is genuinely expecting tomorrow’s third derby to be a lot closer than numbers one and two were.
He said: “Dundee are a very good team and they are on the back of two wins on the bounce.
“Friday night’s game will be 200 mph and anyhting can happen.
“They’ve got a lot of good players and strength in depth coming off the bench so we know it’s going to be a very hard game.”
Neilson felt the Dark Blues suffered from being a relatively new squad when they last visited Tannadice.
He added: “Obviously, it came quite early in the season and they had made a lot of changes in the summer.
“It takes you three or four months to get that continuity into your group where guys start to know how each other play.
“We are getting that as well. We are getting stronger so I think it will be a better game but hopefully one where we still come out on top.”
The reality is, though, that United go into big game 17 points better off than their neighbours. They are also unbeaten at home in the league, have won nine matches in a row and are 8-2 ahead on derby goals “aggregate.”
Opening the points gap to 20 really would put festive smiles on the faces of their fans, who showed their enthusiasm for the derby by buying up the home ticket allocation in less a day.
However, Nielson isn’t getting caught up in all that.
He said: “We’ve got a chance to do that but we have to go and do it.
“We are sitting in a good position just now but you look at Saturday where everyone else around us won so the important thing is to keep focusing on ourselves.
“We are not looking at the gaps behind us and what is going on – it’s about trying to win.
“You need to focus on the next game. When you play at a club like Dundee United and you are in the Championship you need to win every game.
“We can’t get carried away because as soon as we lose a game it’s panic stations and the end of the world externally.
“We need to keep it calm and make sure we’re focused.
“If we do have a blip then we try to rectify it in the following game.
“The players know what the derby means. They all live here and their kids go to school in the area so they know the build-up of it and what’s going on.
“We all know it is going to be a huge game.”