THE anticipation has been amplified inside Dens Park.
It would carry through the speakers in the stands on Saturday after Dundee took an early lead, a goal after six minutes pronounced as "the first of the afternoon". The message was delivered clearly by the PA announcer, the expectation that there would be further cause for the home support to celebrate left unsaid.
The coming of Paul Hartley to Tayside has restored fans' faith that a place in the top flight will be resurrected this season and a win over Hamilton Academical has taken Dundee three points clear at the top of the SPFL Championship table.
It was only a modest victory, but Hartley has not been given to making bold public statements since becoming a manager. It is one of the many ways in which he differs from his predecessor at Dundee. The 37-year-old has instead been at his most compelling behind the scenes of triumph he has enjoyed as a coach, using video analysis to help Alloa Athletic win consecutive league titles and redefining his part-time players with sports science.
Hartley had still to take his place in the Dens Park dugout for the first time on Saturday and he had made room already for Tom Ritchie, the fitness coach he worked with at Alloa. Ritchie was introduced on Saturday, as he directed the Dundee first team through a series of exercises towards the end of half-time.
The intention is for the results to speak for themselves at the end of the campaign. It is the prerogative of a manager who has often seemed reluctant to talk himself up. His quiet self-assurance has been vindicated by those two titles and strong interest from top-flight clubs previously in the market for a manager, although it is likely that it also led to Hartley being shouted down by John Hughes as the pair were interviewed for the Inverness Caledonian Thistle job earlier this season.
The Dundee manager would be rewarded more for a private conversation with Martin Boyle, inviting the striker into his office before kick-off for a heart-to-Hartley. The Dundee forward would emerge to score his first goal of the season. "I'm not saying that's good management," said Hartley.
He didn't have to. "It just comes down to getting that confidence of play into [Boyle] every week with the first team," said Gavin Rae, the Dundee midfielder. "I think it comes down to his belief. He has been playing well in the reserves and now he looks like he wants to kick on."
Hamilton want simply to kickstart a season which has stuttered after two wins in 10 games. The suspensions of Stephen Hendrie and Ziggy Gordon - who were both sent off in the second half - will risk exacerbating that form, with their side now four points off the lead.
Hartley would retreat from the chance to promote himself on Saturday too. He would prefer to take Dundee up first.