CLIVE DUNN is no longer with us, so step forward Hugh Murray, the 34-year-old veteran of almost 500 senior games, to assume the Corporal Jones role in the Firhill dressing room with a resounding cry of "Don't panic!"
Well, that was the message the former St Mirren stalwart was broadcasting on Saturday evening in Dumbarton, but after their side's listless and error-strewn second-half performance at the Bet Butler stadium there were probably a few in the Partick Thistle support who would consider a spot of panic quite acceptable right now.
Even those who believe that it is not yet time to ring the Firhill alarm bell would probably suggest that it is still worth checking that the thing is wired up correctly. After all, Thistle tore into this match at a mind-addling pace, tormented the Dumbarton defence with a blizzard of crosses and cleverly weighted passes, but utterly lost their composure after conceding a silly goal at the other end of the pitch.
Even after Conrad Balatoni had bumped the ball into his own net, Thistle still had the majority of possession and attempts on goal. When Jamie Ewings, the Dumbarton goalkeeper, keeled over in the 42nd minute, it was easy to suspect that the poor fellow was suffering exhaustion, rather than a calf strain. Yet even that incident did Thistle no favours as replacement Stephen Grindlay was just as assured, if a little less busy.
The steam went out of the visitors, and there were times when a headcount was necessary just to check Aaron Sinclair, the fleet-footed left-back who had been the game's dominant figure in the early stages, was still on the park.
It would understate the forbearance of the Thistle fans to describe them as long-suffering, but this was a particularly cruel experience. "Aw, c'moan" wailed one as yet another pass went astray, stretching his plaintive cry to about seven syllables, the last of which sounded like the groan of a dying rhinoceros.
None of which should detract from the achievements of Dumbarton, who played a clever, containing game that gave Ian Murray his third win in four league matches. Murray's cv charts Rangers, Hibernian and Norwich City, as well as a handful of caps, so he has a rather different take on this footballing life than his collection of part-timers.
"He's changed things a bit, doing different things in his own way," Grindlay said of his new manager. "He's very organised in training and in games, a wee bit more professional. He has been full-time all his career, so he's giving us what he has had. We're going on the park better prepared."
The only cloud over Dumbarton's day was the fact that Airdrie, with whom they have been jostling at the bottom of the table, pulled off a stunning win themselves, 3-1 at promotion-chasing Dunfermline, but their confidence is clearly on the rise and they could do so too if they continue to believe in what Murray is doing.
Thistle's bad day took a turn for the worse in the 63rd minute when Dumbarton's Jim Lister flicked on a cross for Bryan Prunty, his fellow striker, to hammer into the net. There was no way back for the Firhill side – and they played as if they knew it.
"Thing's are just maybe not going our way at times," was how Murray – the Thistle one – put it. "It's disappointing, but that's football. We lost a bad goal and probably didn't do enough in the second half. We just need to get back into training on Monday, get our heads down and work hard and it will turn. You go through sticky patches in every season."