If Neil McCann regrets nothing else as he returns to what is looking an ever more challenging job today, it must be that the public dressing down he was eager to deliver to his players was lost amid analysis of his own apparent loss of control following Saturday’s thrashing at the hands of St Johnstone.

Emotions had been running high at Dens Park long before the post-match scuffle that generated incriminating-looking video evidence of the moment his hand moved towards the face of the visitors’ substitute goalkeeper Zander Clark, leaving the man who gave up his work as a telly pundit a year ago to help his old club avoid relegation, to become the latest to challenge the adage that the camera never lies. 

During the preceding 90 minutes play, the fixture’s importance had been clear in how McCann remonstrated with his players as they struggled to cope with both conditions on a teeming wet afternoon and opposition; in opposite number Tommy Wright’s ecstatic celebration when his side scored the second of their goals their play thoroughly deserved; in Dundee goalkeeper Elliot Parish’s displays of frustration when challenging team-mates to offer him options other than booting the ball up the pitch; and in the displeasure directed towards occupants of the directors’ box by early-departing home supporters.

Then came that reaction, McCann’s case not helped by Wright’s assertion that Clark had indicated that he felt he had been struck, nor by the Dundee manager’s own testimony when observing: “Maybe if my players had shown the same type of fight I wouldn’t have got that performance.”

If, then, there was the slightest consolation for him as he waited to find out whether there would be further repercussions, it was that the initial response from those he was so keen to chastise, was that they remain willing to accept their responsibility, rather than let him shoulder all the blame ahead of what now begins to look like another battle to avoid the Premiership play-off.

“We didn’t deliver on any front today. It’s solely on the players. That was terrible,” reckoned Parish, who had rather less reason to reproach himself than most in front of him on a day of repeated defensive blunders.

“As a collective, we’re annoyed at each other, because we’re all in this together. Every game matters but this is a derby as well, so it means a lot to the fans.That for me is the worst performance of the season from our team. It’s tough to come off a pitch and say they’ve outworked us [but] maybe they have. That hurts a lot.”

He duly expressed a determination to turn things around, within the context of an awareness that, without a home win in three months, they look to be in considerable trouble, adding: “We’ve got to get that out our head as quickly as possible and get a result next week.We’ve never been far enough away to say we were never in a fight. We all understand where we are. We’re just a couple of wins away from being right out of it. We’ve just got to do that in the next few games. It’s a terrible run of form at home. As players, we’ve got to take the flak. As everyone has seen, that’s nowhere near where we need to be. We just have to go and win games. That is on us. It’s difficult to speak now. That hurts a lot.”

Set against that Wright was entitled to his own relatively minor source of regret that off-field matters meant his players, whom he rightly reckoned could have racked up an even bigger score, would not be lauded as they deserved to be.

As they repeatedly attempted to create dainty little passing sequences and sought too long on the ball, Dundee were living dangerously long before first-half substitute Jordan Piggott made his debut memorable for all the wrong reasons just six minutes after he took the field as he redirected Murray Davidson’s shot past Parish.

Doubtless both he and Davidson will eagerly argue that the initial attempt was on target so the goal should be credited to the Saints midfielder but, either way, Piggott’s culpability was nothing to that of Josh Meekings when trying to usher the ball out of play later in the half, instead letting Stevie MacLean keep it in, allowing Blair Alston to square the loose ball to the unattended Chris Kane, who had the easiest of jobs of registering his long-awaited first league goal of the season. 

He almost got his second 19 minutes into the second half when released one-on-one with Parish, who did well to deny him, only for the ball to run into the path of Alston who stroked it home, but two minutes later Kane had his brace anyway when he once again found himself in behind the hapless Dundee defence.  

“We had to win. The manager had us ready for it and I think we showed we were,” the striker said. “This could be our biggest win of the season, the fact that it was against Dundee as well.”

In so many ways it had the feel of a highly significant day for all concerned.