Stevie Crawford has warned Dunfermline that the motivational powers of pal Robbie Neilson pose a massive threat to their unbeaten run.
The Pars have gone five games without defeat and have kept five clean sheets on their way to four 1-0 victories and a bigger success against Partick Thistle in recent weeks.
It has been a stunning turnaround for the Fifers, who failed to win any of Crawford’s first four games in charge.
Tomorrow’s opponents, Dundee United, are reeling from back-to-back losses that have ended their Scottish Cup dream and resulted in them falling 11 points adrift of Championship leaders Ross County.
But Crawford knows his opposite number at Tannadice, Neilson, well enough from spells working as his number two at Hearts and MK Dons to be aware the Tangerines will be desperate to spark another recovery at East End Park.
He said: “The pleasing thing for us is you get a feel-good factor from a winning run.
“But the one thing we’ve got to be wary of now is Dundee United are coming down on the back of two defeats and I know Robbie will have his players ready for the battle, first and foremost.
“He’ll be very much focused on them taking points back up the road to catch Ross County.
“I just know the way Robbie works and he’ll not be happy on the back of two defeats. He’ll want his players hungry to prove a point.
“Do we focus all our attention on Dundee United? I think we’ve got to respect what they are and what they’ll be coming down to try to achieve.
“But we’ll be focused on ourselves this week and the togetherness and the discipline we’ve shown in games.
“There are no signs of boys getting carried away with the way results have been in recent weeks.”
Dunfermline, with a possible relegation battle hanging over them just a few weeks ago, are now eyeing the chance of catching Ayr United, just three points ahead in third.
With Dundee United only a further three points in front, a Pars victory tomorrow would certainly shake up the race for promotion play-off places.
However, Crawford insists his focus is solely on the next target of catching Ayr one place ahead in the table.
He added: “We closed the gap to Ayr United with a really good victory and performance [against Alloa] last weekend, and that will be our focus.
“A result against United would be great, and we’re also going to close the gap on them if we get a positive result against them.
“But if we start looking too far ahead that’s when you can run into trouble.”
Meanwhile, striker Faissal El Bakhtaoui, on loan from Dundee, is expected to return to the squad after six weeks out with a calf injury, but Aidan Connolly, Lewis Martin and Sean Murdoch remain sidelined.