It is a little trite to belabour the fact that a late invitation had Dundee arrive in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League underprepared and somewhat dishevelled, but there are signs that they have yet to adjust fully to life in the top flight.
Their opening league match at Kilmarnock – which brought their only point to date – reflected a cup tie between a top-flight side and a group of plucky so-and-sos from a lower league, but Dens Park proved a far more level playing field on Saturday. Yet a more mature performance was still unpicked by a moment of cunning from Mark Corcoran; the Ross County midfielder tumbling in the penalty area after the meekest of shunts. The temptation was to pat the Dundee players on the head and tell them they did not deserve it but they will gain nothing from being patronised.
The gap in quality which is often described between clubs at the bottom of the Premier League and the top of the Irn-Bru First Division tends to expand and contract depending on the circumstances; it is more accurate to say that arch play is more prevalent in the top flight and is more ably exploited. The arrival on loan last week of Lewis Toshney and, in particular, Colin Nish will inject Dundee with greater nous, while their new team-mates will be required to wise up to that quickly. Preferably by the time they visit Hearts on Sunday.
"[The penalty] is maybe cute play from their player and it's maybe a wee bit of experience. He's used his head a wee bit and maybe that's what we need. We keep going back to it being a steep learning curve for us and we need to learn very, very quickly so we are not detached at the bottom of the league," said McAlister, the Dundee midfielder.
Ross County are wrestling with their own pressures, only these are entirely of their own making. Their 38th straight league match without defeat delivered their first win in the Premier League and heightened expectation that the Highland side can prolong their stay. Their performance erred more on the side of competence than comprehensive yet, while Rab Douglas was only intermittently troubled in the Dundee goal, he was still required to fish the ball out of his net.
Their success is founded on a collective strength – only one of those who started on Saturday, Ross Tokely, did not play last season for the club – and it is hard to begrudge them another day sharing the spotlight.
"We were absolutely delighted to get the club's first win in the SPL," said Scott Boyd, the County defender. "It was important after such a great start to the season."
5' Ross Tokely's header is flicked on to the crossbar by Scott Boyd before being hooked clear.
45' Jim McAlister directs a cross towards Colin Nish, but Gary Irvine intercepts to clip a shot against a post from a tight angle.
72' 0-1 Mark Corcoran goes down in the penalty area after a weak shoulder barge by Neil McGregor and Richard Brittain rifles in from the spot.