It was undeniable that the outcome of this game of football swung dramatically on two key flashpoints.
That said, there was no disputing Dundee United were deserving of victory.
Caley Thistle ended up on the receiving end of a Tangerine beating for the fifth time in a row, the third in succession by a three-goal margin.
This was also the seventh meeting of the sides this year and the sixth defeat.
All these statistics will be rendered meaningless if Caley Thistle can recapture winning form and win the Championship this season, but to do that they must learn to beat Dundee United.
They must also recapture the defensive solidity and cohesion that characterised performances earlier in the campaign.
The pivotal moments included referee Grant Irvine’s failure to punish United striker Lawrence Shankland with a red card in the first half after swinging an elbow in the face of Jamie McCart.
The unsighted official consulted with his assistant on the touchline and, somehow, the latter deemed the potentially match-changing offence wasn’t even worthy of a yellow card.
The second crunch moment came midway through the second half when James Keatings was unlucky to batter a free header into the ground and over the bar from a good position.
Within seconds, United had coursed forwards and grabbed the crucial second goal through Nicky Clark.
That decisive goal came in between Shaun Rooney’s 20th-minute own goal as he stuck a toe on a hard-driven cross by Paul McMullan and the final blow of Shankland’s penalty kick after Miles Storey took down Liam Smith in the box.
“We were a wee bit unlucky to lose the own goal,” manager John Robertson stressed.
“Mark Ridgers kept us in the game with two wonderful second-half saves and then it all changes in the blink of an eye.
“We should have been 1-1 when James Keatings misses. They go right down the park and Nicky Clark punishes us. For the Shankland incident, I don’t blame the referee. We’ve seen it on video and he is blindsided.
“However, his assistant is standing 10 yards away and should have seen a clear elbow.”
For United, there is a resurgence after three setbacks away from home, with Saturday’s win making it nine points from nine in the space of seven days.
In battering rain, it was United who found their stride first.
United went ahead after 20 minutes when McMullan took the ball on the right and his low-smashed ball across goal was heading for the prowling Clark and Shankland, before Rooney stabbed into the roof of the net off the woodwork.
A minute later, the hosts were raging at that Shankland elbow on McCart near the home technical area.
Caley Thistle’s only first-half chance came five minutes before the break.
From Aaron Doran’s supply, James Keatings found himself square on goal but was leaning back and lost balance as he struck.
Away keeper Benjamin Siegrist pulled off a fine reflex save for a corner. Two Mark Ridgers saves within six minutes kept Caley Thistle in the game early in the second half.
Keatings gave the ball away midway inside his own half and Ian Harkes raced forward to send a rising shot towards the top right of the net, only for Ridgers to leap superbly to push it past the post.
Three minutes later, Appere sent Calum Butcher clean away but Ridgers came out to calmly block him one-on-one.
The injection of Tom Walsh and Miles Storey after the hour helped the Highlanders but they passed up a big chance to equalise after 70 minutes.
Walsh’s beautifully floated cross from the right found Keatings heading down powerfully at the back post, before the ball bounced and over the bar.
Within seconds, United had grabbed the vital two-goal advantage.
The home defence backed off as Harkes threaded the ball forward and Nicky Clark smashed home a 12-yard finish. Ridgers had no chance from the spot as Shankland inflicted the final damage for his 18th club goal of the season.