A Fraser Fyvie masterclass helped Dundee United stamp their authority back on the Championship with a remarkable win over Dunfermline.
Going into this much-anticipated fixture at East End Park, the Pars were sitting pretty at the top of the table and were scoring goals seemingly at will.
However, the Tangerines tore them apart and fired a stark warning to the rest of the division that the pre-season promotion favourites are back in business after a dip in form.
Fyvie was at the heart of all that was good about this performance from Ray McKinnon’s men and on 35 minutes he gave the Tangerines the lead with a low strike.
The advantage was doubled two minutes before half-time when Scott McDonald fired home from close range then the stage was cleared for Fyvie to bring the house down with a brilliant strike just before the hour.
The home team got a goal back on 77 minutes when sub Callum Smith headed home but that was all Dunfermline could manage before the whistle blew.
United made just the one change from their Morton win, bringing veteran midfielder Willo Flood in to play at right-back in place of the injured Lewis Toshney.
Toshney’s expected replacement, Stewart Murdoch, had to call off ill.
The hosts, unsurprisingly given their form, were unchanged from the line-up that started against Brechin City.
With four minutes on the clock, the visitors looked to have found a way through the home defence when Fyvie played in McDonald but the offside flag went up.
The game hadn’t quite lived up to its match of the day tag in the early stages but, on 20 minutes, Dunfermline’s Kallum Higginbotham sent his half-volley wide of the post from a good position.
With 28 minutes gone, the Pars had another go, this time Declan McManus firing in a low shot that keeper Harry Lewis gathered.
New Scotland under-21 squad member Ryan Williamson then fired wide after he was found by a short freekick from Higginbotham.
Just when you thought the Pars were gaining traction in the game, United went up the park and scored.
There were 35 minutes on the clock when Jamie Robson, who had been having a fine match for United, raced up the left and his cross-shot was pushed away by goalie Sean Murdoch.
Unfortunately for the Fifers, the parry landed right in front of Fyvie, whose drilled, low shot from 10 yards found the back of the net.
Former Tannadice defender Callum Morris was booked for a bad challenge on James Keatings and it wasn’t long before United’s McDonald followed suit for hacking Jason Talbot.
Then, just a couple of minutes before the break, the large travelling support went crazy as the Tangerines went 2-0 up.
The Pars conceded a freekick inside their own half when Lee Ashcroft brought down McDonald.
Keatings sent the setpiece into the box and it struck the body of Edjenguele and fell for the wee Australian poacher, who slammed the ball home.
Remarkably, it could have been three for United before half-time as they broke three-on-two.
McMullan was the one who was played in but his shot was deflected up into the air. Billy King saw his chance and sent a shot crashing off the Pars bar before it was finally cleared.
The Pars brought on Smith for David Hopkirk at the break.
On 54 minutes, visiting keeper Lewis caused a bit of panic when he dropped the ball in front of goal and Flood had to boot it clear.
The United fans were on their feet celebrating again on 59 minutes when a fabulous strike from Fyvie made it 3-0.
A Keatings freekick hit the Dunfermline wall and eventually the ball made its way out right to Flood, who drilled a cross back over. The ball ricocheted again and spun up for Fyvie, who was standing just outside the box and blasted it on the half-volley high into the net past Murdoch.
On 64 minutes, the now rampant Tangerines roared forward again and McMullan looked set to slot the ball past Murdoch but fell to the floor. The penalty claims were unconvincing.
Robson then posed a danger to the Pars on 74 minutes when he raced into the box but his shot was blocked.
Three minutes later, the hosts got one back when sub Smith nodded past Lewis after he was picked out by a McManus cross.
With their lead reduced, United had some nervy moments as Dunfermline chased a second that really would have ensured it was game on.
However, they saw the match out and their best performance of the season was matched by their best result of the campaign so far.
Dunfermline: Murdoch, Williamson, Talbot, Morris, Ashcroft, McManus (Ryan 82), Higginbotham, Wedderburn, Clark, Shiels (Splaine 65), Hopkirk (C. Smith 46). Subs not used: Gill, Martin, Aird, Lochead.
Dundee United: Lewis, Durnan, McMullan, McDonald (N’Koyi 90), King, Edjenguele, Flood, Robson, Keatings (Stanton 76), Briels, Fyvie. Subs not used: Deniz, Fraser, Allardice, M. Smith, Davidson.
Referee: Don Robertson.