This was a terrible result for Dundee United.
That is the blunt, incontrovertible truth.
To lose at home to a Kilmarnock team that couldn’t buy a win before Saturday and had been thumped 4-0 by both Dundee and Ross County is the stuff of relegation nightmares.
The defeat dropped United down into the danger zone, just a point and a place above bottom side Partick Thistle with seven matches of the campaign gone.
It also meant that a poignant occasion which marked the passing of club legend Ralph Milne did not provide the win carved by so many who turned out on a dreich day.
The strange thing is, though, that it wasn’t a terrible performance.
In fact, during spells of the second half, as the Tangerines chased a winner, memories of the free-flowing football of late 2014 came flooding back.
The difference between then and now, though, was that during those heady, four-goals-a-game days everything the Tangerines hit seemed to end up in the net.
This time against Killie, however, despite chance after chance they could only muster a spotkick from Billy Mckay on 66 minutes in response to Kallum Higginbotham’s first-half penalty for the visitors.
Swinging away without landing a knockout blow meant that when a sucker punch came from Kilmarnock it sent United and their fans crashing to the canvas.
It was a cracker of a winner for the Ayrshire men from Kevin McHattie a 30-yard half-volley two minutes from time but its beauty only added to the home side’s agony.
Tannadice new boy Mckay may have scored on his home debut for his new team but he couldn’t hide his disappointment.
The striker said: “I didn’t think they troubled us all day but they got a penalty and then it was some strike at the end.
“So it’s hard to take.
“On another day, we go on and win four or five-one.
“Indeed, I thought there was only one team winning it and it was us.
“It’s probably worse when you lose to a wonder goal like that because I can’t really think of them having one clear chance in the game, while we had four, five or six in the second half.
“So we are gutted.”
Mckay voiced the feeling, prevalent among the management and playing staff, that United are close to clicking and that some side is going to suffer a hammering from them soon.
He added: ‘I definitely feel that.
“I thought that, had we got the second goal, we would have gone on to win well.
“Look at our play around the box, for example.
“As soon as the end product comes with that, someone is going to get four or five past them.”
The league table doesn’t lie, as the clich goes, and it looks grim for the Tangerines.
However, Mckay said: “There is no way we should be in this position.
“Look at the play around the penalty area, the through balls, the movement it is different class.
“One day, hopefully next week (against his old club Inverness), someone will get it. It’s all going to come together.”
That is a confident prediction and one that will be music to the ears of manager Jackie McNamara because the pressure is mounting on the United boss and some boos greeted the final whistle.
McNamara is aware all is not well among the supporters, saying of the reaction at the end: “It’s part and parcel of my job and I have to accept that.
“The buck stops with me.
“If the results are not there then I won’t be here, pure and simple.
“I would be more concerned if we aren’t playing the right way or creating chances.
“We could do with a little bit of luck of front of goal.
“It says ‘defeat’ in the record but I will take the positives.”
The Tangerines started brightly and new frontman Adam Taggart fired the ball over the bar from just outside the box after 30 seconds.
Mckay then got his toe on the end of a Ryan McGowan cross on nine minutes but Killie keeper Jamie MacDonald was well positioned to save.
The visitors threatened on 18 minutes and Rory McKenzie’s volley at the back post wasn’t far away.
Mckay went on a mazy run into the Killie box but had his shot blocked then another new boy, Aaron Kuhl, hit the sidenetting with a freekick.
Having passed up their chances, United fell behind with just a minute of the first half remaining.
Skipper Sean Dillon was the villain as he fouled McKenzie inside the box and the resultant penalty was tucked away by Higginbotham.
There was a great through ball from McKay on 51 minutes that played in Ryan Dow but his angled shot from inside the box was blocked.
On 66 minutes, United won a penalty of their own when Blair Spittal’s shot was saved by the hand of Lee Ashcroft.
Up stepped Mckay to blast the ball down the middle and into the net to make it 1-1.
A neat move by United on 77 minutes almost ended with another goal from Mckay but his shot on the turn failed to find the target.
Mckay was involved again two minutes later when he flicked the ball goalwards after a sweeping move involving sub Darko Bodul and Dow.
It was all United going into the final 10 minutes and Bodul spurned a glorious chance when he shot wide after producing some neat footwork.
The home team then missed an even easier chance on 83 minutes.
It looked like they could walk the ball into the Killie net but Bodul decided to square to Dow for a tap-in. Remarkably, Dow saw his point-blank shot saved by MacDonald.
Having squandered those opportunities, United fell behind with two minutes remaining when McHattie slammed a 30-yard strike along the deck and inside keeper Luis Zwick’s near post.