When Andrew Robertson signed from Queen's Park in the summer it was as a player for the future, one to be moulded and gradually eased into the first team once he had adapted to the rigours of full-time football. Yet Jackie McNamara's fruitless search to find a left-back - one that diluted in intensity as pre-season progressed - afforded the 19-year-old the chance to make the position his own. After just 10 games, it is hard to recall that it ever belonged to anyone else.
Indeed, the Glaswegian's impact has been such that United yesterday announced he had agreed new terms tieing him to the club until May 2016, capping a week that also included a first summons to Scotland's under-21 squad for matches against Slovakia and Georgia over the next nine days. "Andy has really impressed so far; he has been at it from the moment he came in the door and his attitude and performance levels deserve to be rewarded with this extended deal," McNamara said. "We recognised this and are fully committed to rewarding performance and ability but also ensuring protection for the club."
Robertson, for his part, was only too eager to extend his deal. "Coming here has been everything I hoped and more. The dressing room is brilliant, the atmosphere feels right and I am learning from great coaches. It means I can focus on continuing my education as a footballer. The style United play suits my game and under Jackie McNamara I know I'll continue to improve as a defender."
Such sentiments are ones that the manager hopes will chime with Souttar as he mulls over a move to Sunderland. It emerged yesterday that Queens Park Rangers will send a representative to Tannadice to take in today's match with Kilmarnock and are prepared to not only match the £600,000 bid made by the Wearside club but also loan the 17-year-old back to United until the end of the season.
There was a time when Darren Barr was talked about in a similar manner after he emerged at Falkirk. A transfer to Hearts did earn him a Scottish Cup winner's medal but now he finds himself part of a Kilmarnock side enveloped in turmoil. Having watched as the Tynecastle club slowly crumbled, he is used to having to block out background matters and concentrate on football and will put that experience to use again today.
"You're aware of it," he admitted. "But we just need to focus on what we're going to do. It's about giving something back; we've not given our fans a lot to shout about and we want to give something back to the gaffer as well. We just want to do our job and we've not been doing it recently. It's on us, it's just hard at the minute but we'll get there."
Last week Celtic travelled to Rugby Park, while today Kilmarnock travel to face a side who have lost only to the champions in their last eight games. "United have got good players," Barr said. "So we need to be on our game. As you will have seen from most of the matches, we've been there, nearly been there. It's just trying to kick on and get that first win."
Barr played with McNamara at Falkirk, albeit they were at different stages of their careers. "He was good to bounce off," said Barr. "He was always there if you wanted to speak to him, ask him anything. You could tell he was going to be a coach; he had that bit about him where it was definitely going to the next step."