This piece is an extract from yesterday's Dens Dispatch newsletter, which is emailed out at 6pm every Tuesday.

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Over the weekend, John McGinn patiently explaining to a bemused Ollie Watkins the outlook many Scotland supporters have towards the England football team racked up views and sparked debate about the nature of the Scotland-England footballing rivalry. To what extent can a rivalry exist if one side cares more deeply than the other - or, in fact, has its own, alternative rivalries to focus on? Is there a point at which it can almost be willed into existence against the wishes of (in this case) Ollie Watkins, given the level of antipathy shown?

These questions dog rivalries up and down the land. Partick Thistle fans no doubt care far more about their results against Rangers and Celtic than supporters of the Glasgow giants do, and the Motherwell-Hamilton-Airdrie nexus is a fascinating case study of how relative league performance can shift derby priorities across generations. In Dundee's case, the slightly tiresome aggressor demanding to be taken seriously as a rival is St Johnstone Football Club.

There's no doubt who has had the better last decade or two. St Johnstone have qualified repeatedly for Europe, picking up two Scottish Cups and a League Cup in the process along with countless top-six finishes. Until the last couple of years, relegation has been an afterthought for the Perth side since Gordon Brown was Prime Minister. When compared to our yo-yoing between the top two tiers, financial difficulties and cup woes, it's clear which support has surely been the happier campers this century.

Dundee United's long-term impersonation of a bin fire has perhaps convinced some St Johnstone fans that we are in the market for a new derby, and nothing is more certain than the ostentatious use of the phrase "Tayside derby" in the lead-up to a clash between the pair. This has become what the kids call a "bit" on social media, with many on both sides participating in an endless, dreary debate over why it either is or isn't a derby. The mere engagement of Dundee fans on this topic has - correctly - been paraded as a win by our light blue correspondents 25 miles west, not least because insisting that you are absolutely not bothered by something almost always suggests the contrary.

Ironically, this persistence from the Fair City has paid off, and most Dundee fans are now very keen to see a victory on Saturday for more than the three points on offer. In some ways, of course, this is revisiting old history. Many older fans of both Dundee and United speak of attending Dens one week and Tannadice the next, such was the gulf between the two at the time, rendering the derby between the two Dundee clubs to be only occasional. On the other hand, St Johnstone were, like Dundee, usually in the top tier, most notably in 1962 when Dundee simultaneously secured the league and relegated the Perth outfit on the final day of the season at Muirton Park. Given some Dundee derby results in the modern era, perhaps we're barking up the wrong tree...

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The very recent antipathy between the two sides is just one in a long line of unusual rivalries we have stumbled into, though. An older generation of Hearts fans, scarred by Albert Kidd and 1986, re-entered hostilities with gusto when Dundee's vote in the Covid season formally consigned Hearts to relegation. Games between ourselves and the Jam Tarts the following season were bitter, spiky affairs, and tiresome jokes about spam folders and emails can still be found peppering our social media accounts. Similarly, I can recall certain sections of the Raith Rovers support taking real umbrage at the Dark Blues following our second administration event in the 2010/11 season, which was probably made far, far worse when trialist Neil McCann scored an injury-time winner to keep our unbeaten run going to avoid relegation. It's only been the emergence of their beef with our nearest and dearest neighbours this season which has allowed some of those bygones to be bygones.

However, the most enjoyable rivalry - if that is the right phrase - has been with Hamilton Academical. Spurred on by our all-too-frequent tussles in promotion races and relegation dogfights, there was a period of a couple of years where the likes of Dougie Imrie and Darian Mackinnon almost secured United player levels of opprobrium from the Dundee support. Things really took off after their 10-2 victory over Greenock Morton on the final day of the 2013/14 season wasn't enough to secure the title, leading to some social media posts from celebrating Dundee players who didn't land too well in Lanarkshire. After that, and especially once Dundee United took a four-year sabbatical from the Premiership, trips to New Douglas Park were relished for a chance to engage in as close to the real thing as possible.

Since Accies' demise, there's not been a solid pretender to their crown as "next best after United", and perhaps a Levein-led Perth Saints could make a tilt at that if they manage to hold their nerve this season. For now, though, this weekend will be all about continuing our march to the top six - and maybe letting the Fair City Ultras indulge in some "coagie" chants to boot.