It has involved rifling through pages of history and folding down the corners of those that contain the names of potential candidates, with Steven Pressley now being sized up for the position.
The former United defender, and present Falkirk manager, is thought to fit best from a list that included Tannadice alumni such as Billy Dodds and Derek McInnes and he will return to Dundee for talks this week.
He can be expected to first test the temperature at the club before immersing himself again and an enduring series of tepid home results will be a source of intrigue.
Take Saturday; United were held to a draw by Ross County, a result which extends a run of 11 attempts without a home win – or none since beating Dundee on August 19, if you prefer – and fans became further inured to the sight of their side faltering at the weekend, even if Richard Brittain was adroit in how he whipped a shot into the net.
That United remain just four points outside the European places perhaps mitigates the impact of that form but it still rankles given the relative strength of this team.
Pressley looks an attractive candidate in light of his work nurturing a young Falkirk side, many of whom are unlikely to recall their manager's time as a United player 15 years ago. He would inherit a squad replete with talented young players; Stuart Armstrong, in particular, offered an assured display at the weekend after returning from compassionate leave.
How he might progress under a new coach provided a distraction from elements of Saturday's draw, although not everyone was inclined to entertain themselves by speculating. "I hate it, I'll tell you now," said Sean Dillon, the United defender. "You could tell me that my dad is going to be the manager, then I will get my hopes up and then he's not. When a deal is done, we can discuss it."
A deal already has been struck to sort out the future of Brittain, the County captain having agreed a pre-contract with St Johnstone. Goals like his on Saturday are making that much harder to take. "We are sad. He is very important," lamented Mihael Kovacevic, the County defender.