Only once in nine previous home matches this season had Ross County been frustrated at home. Eight wins and a draw, and only two goals against, spoke of a fortress-like grip at Victoria Park.
A scoreless Highland derby draw had provided the previous blemish but this was a far more significant indent on the armour.
Dundee United under Robbie Neilson are a very different proposition to the team beaten 1-0 in Dingwall and then 5-1 at Tannadice during Csaba Laszlo’s doomed management.
But while there was a belief and positivity in the way they embraced Neilson’s gameplan, it was negativity that ultimately prevailed. United were streetwise and savvy, matching County’s aggression and, once ahead, wasted no opportunity in disrupting the flow of play.
Countless delays for treatment were reflected in the eight minutes of stoppage time referee Alan Newlands added at the end.
What is inescapable, though, is that Ross County were unable to rise above it all and deliver a result in the manner that fans have become accustomed to on home turf.
Paul Watson’s early strike proved enough to make it four wins and a draw under the new Tannadice manager, lifting United to within a point of second top Ross County.
County’s 11-match unbeaten run was terminated but they remain just four points off leaders Ayr at this early juncture.
There was another negative in the shape of renewed injury woe for vice-captain Liam Fontaine, who had stepped back into central defence with Ross Draper nudged forward into midfield.
United, backed by a boisterous 901-strong support, created the atmosphere inside the ground but County set the early pace. Only 23 seconds had elapsed when Billy Mckay hit the net, only to be ruled offside.
It was feisty stuff. A slack Davis Keillor-Dunn pass had Draper crunching in fairly but powerfully on striker Pavol Safranko, leaving the Slovakian writhing in pain.
From Josh Mullin’s cross, Mckay’s downward header was bouncing back up and under the bar only for keeper Benjamin Siegrist to tip it over.
In defiance of County’s early pressure, United took the lead when Fraser Aird’s free-kick was knocked down by William Edjenguele leaving Watson clear to slam home from six yards.
Close to half-time, County had a strong penalty claim turned down when William Edjenguele clattered into Davis Keillor-Dunn but referee Newlands waved it away.
After the break, United defended well, slowed the game down and broke up momentum whenever they could with frequent stoppages for injuries, real or imagined.
County, though, had genuine need of the medical team. Fontaine’s exit on a stretcher prompted the the blooding of a third striker in Brian Graham after Declan McManus came on to add some thrusting runs on the right.
There were eight added minutes after all the injury delays but County couldn’t crack the visitors. United’s wild celebrations in front of their support summed up what it meant to take the points.