A section of their travelling supporters let them down as did the club's board, whose two-paragraph non-statement following the disruption to the minute’s silence before United's 2-1 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox was woefully inadequate. Rank and file fans will hope for better judgment when it comes to naming a new manager, which looks likely to be this week.
There are at least signs of improvement on the playing front. United look capable of taking advantage of a post-international break run of fixtures that has the potential to yield much-needed points.
The Tannadice side remain bottom of the table but now have got Celtic and Rangers out of the way for a while. The aggregate score against the Old Firm this season stands at 11-1, but this latest performance was a world away from the record home loss against Celtic last month.
United certainly never gave up, a criticism directed at them on that occasion. Indeed, they were pushing for an equaliser when referee Kevin Clancy controversially blew the final whistle just as the visitors had won another corner.
The Tannadice side will hope to take up where they left off – on the front foot – when hosting St Johnstone in two weekends’ time. It is the first of three successive home league fixtures, with Aberdeen and Hibs arriving in quick succession afterwards.
Although still difficult challenges, they are opportunities to pick up an elusive first league win and ward off being left stranded at the bottom. Caretaker manager Liam Fox has done himself no harm when it comes to the question of who might lead United into this critical sequence of games.
The 38-year-old no doubt feared the worst when Rangers hit United with a whirlwind start on Saturday. The hosts seemed to take extra motivation from the sense of fury enveloping Ibrox after the poorly observed tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.
However, Rangers struck only once though through Antonio Colak in this period. United kept plugging away even after Colak added a second shortly after the interval. Liam Smith pulled one back just before the hour mark and Ibrox became very nervy indeed. United now have two weeks in which to confirm a new permanent manager. What they do or don’t do in this break could prove season-defining.
Fox expects to hear what lies in store for him within the next 48 hours. He is due to sit down again with sporting director Tony Asghar. "My situation will probably be resolved in the next couple of days - one way or the other,” he said.
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has also welcomed a fortnight in which to regroup before away games against Hearts and Liverpool. He is hopeful that Tom Lawrence will have recovered from injury to play some part of the Tynecastle clash although 20-year-old Charlie McCann did well on his full debut on Saturday.
Van Bronckhorst confirmed defenders John Souttar and Filip Helander will take longer to return. “They won’t be back after the break,” he said. “For us it is good that there is the break now so Tom has two weeks extra to recover."