At the third attempt, McKinnon’s men got their season up and running in earnest courtesy of first-half goals from Simon Murray and teenager Jamie Robson’s first for the club, before Willo Flood, pictured, scored late to see off bottom-club Ayr United at Tannadice.
United are aiming to go straight back to the Premiership and McKinnon quickly challenged his hopefuls to kick on in their quest to regain top-flight status.
“It’s a good day, “ said McKinnon afterwards. “Overall you would take a 3-0 any day. It’s important to obviously get off the mark.”
It was United who began brightest and went ahead in just 12 minutes. Jamie Adams, the Ayr defender, chopped down Cammy Smith inside the box. Up stepped Nick Van Der Velden, the Dutchman, whose weak penalty was saved by Greg Fleming, but Murray was quickest to react as he nodded home the rebound from close-range to allow the hosts a sigh of relief.
Gary Harkins did look like Ayr’s best hope of getting back on level terms and he went on a driving run before unleashing a 25-yard shot which Cammy Bell, the home keeper, did well to parry.
However, United went 2-0 ahead through 18-year-old Robson in 36 minutes. Van Der Velden played in Flood whose cut-back was perfect for Robson who smashed the ball home on his weaker right foot from 12-yards.
With a comeback in mind, Ayr made a double substitution after the break with Brian Gilmour and Jamie Thomas entering proceedings. But Flood effectively finished the contest in 76 minutes when he volleyed past Fleming from two yards after substitute Tope Obadeyi had worked some magic before crossing from the left.
Ian McCall, who watched his side slump to their third straight defeat since being promoted from League One, felt his players did themselves some justice after the break.
“I don’t think you could begrudge United a 2-0 lead at half-time,” said McCall afterwards. “But I thought we were the dominant team for most of the second-half.”