Something had to give and after an incredible 90 minutes that ebbed and flowed from end to end, it eventually settled in St Mirren's favour.
This was only a second league win on the road for Danny Lennon's men and given the other came across the road at Dens Park, they will surely look forward to their next trip to the city with some relish.
After a run of six successive defeats, St Mirren have now lost only once in their last eight games and can now breathe easier having moved 12 points ahead of bottom side Dundee.
For Dundee United, home is where the hurt is. This was a tenth successive game in front of their own fans without a win, the derby victory over Dundee fast becoming a fading memory.
United had thrown away leads in their last two home matches and they were at it again here in a topsy-turvy encounter, recovering from losing the first goal to go 2-1 up by half-time, only to see their advantage erased and then overturned in the second half. They also played out the last 21 minutes with just 10 men after Brian McLean was shown a straight red card for a heavy challenge on St Mirren's John McGinn.
Peter Houston will be hoping the changing of the calendar also brings about a change of luck at home for him and his team. Tannadice had witnessed a 4-4 draw earlier in the month and this one was a goal away from producing the same.
It was St Mirren who struck first after 16 minutes. It was a well-worked move, Jon Robertson sweeping a pass wide to Gary Teale who made a mockery of Barry Douglas before crossing for Paul Dummett to convert from close range. It set the tone for what was to follow, with strikers more than willing to take advantage of sloppy defending.
Within five minutes of Dummett's effort, Steven Thompson, returning to his first senior club, passed up two opportunities to bolster his side's lead. If he was unfortunate to see a header cleared off the line by Mark Millar, then he only had himself to blame for the second miss, squirting a first-time shot wide of the post when he had time to take a touch.
With Gary Teale also seeing his free kick saved by Radoslaw Cierzniak, St Mirren could have had four in the first half alone. For a while it looked as if they would regret such profligacy as, by half-time, they had fallen behind.
Craig Samson did brilliantly to claw out a Gavin Gunning header from Willo Flood's corner but United pressure, and some shaky St Mirren defending, eventually told. Three minutes before half-time, Dummett manhandled Jon Daly to the ground as they contested Douglas' deep cross and Daly casually converted the penalty. Minutes later and United were in front, Stuart Armstrong's swerving long-range effort befuddling Samson who could only palm it into his own net.
The second half was no less frenetic and within five minutes St Mirren were level.Poor defending played a part once more, Lewis Guy charging down Keith Watson's attempted clearance and the ball rolling to Thompson who slid a shot low beyond Cierzniak.
Ten minutes later and St Mirren were back in front. Teale was fouled by Douglas, dusted himself down, then swung an enticing free kick that Marc McAusland lashed beyond Cierzniak at the second attempt.
United's plight would get worse when McLean was sent off and St Mirren capitalised with a fourth, 12 minutes from time. The strike not only secured the victory but also served as a source of some relief for scorer David van Zanten.
A charity bet had been placed that would have seen the Irishman put on a mankini and sing Madonna's 'Like A Virgin' on the halfway line at St Mirren Park at the final home game of the season if he had failed to score in this campaign.
Little wonder he was smiling as he jogged back for the re-start. United made it more nervy than it ought to have been for St Mirren by closing the gap in the 90th minute. Douglas' precise free kick was worthy of more than just consolation.