Can Thistle exorcise play-off heartbreak one year on?

As if the Scottish Championship season hasn't been exciting enough, the play-offs are just around the corner and once again Partick Thistle are in the mix.

Kris Doolan's side were seconds away from making history last term as the first side to be promoted after finishing fourth in the second tier.

This season, they are set to finish third and will face Airdrieonians - who they thumped less than two weeks ago - with a semi-final against Raith Rovers at stake.

But Thistle - who visit champions Dundee United in their final fixture on Friday - know that is a miles away at this stage.

The play-offs present a hectic haul of fixtures and it's a survival-of-the-fittest fight.

Fuelled by last season's disappointment but armoured with the experience, can they get the job done this time around?

Wise-head Graham leading the way

Two is the magic number, if you are Brian Graham.

On the eve of their Premiership play-off last season, the Thistle striker said he was looking forward to "shoving two fingers up" to clubs who "shafted" his side when they were relegated to League 1 during a Covid-19 affected season.

This time around, he could have two PFA Scotland trophies in his hands come the end of the campaign.

He tops the Championship's scoring charts with 20 goals, has netted against every opponent in the league, and is unsurprisingly shortlisted for the division's player of the year.

But 36-year-old Graham is also up for SWPL manager of the year after guiding Thistle's women's team to their first domestic cup final and back-to-back top six finishes.

Championship table
[BBC Sport]

On a personal level, it's been a season of success for the journeyman, who shows no signs of shifting permanently into management anytime soon.

He's long revealed his desire to get back to the top-flight with Thistle and has been spearheading their charge this season, too.

Don't expect that to change going into the play-offs - where he scored five in six games last term.

Given his superb start to the season, a one-year extension was added to his deal and the striker is contracted to Thistle until the the youthful age of 38.

It's the first time in his colourful career that he's been captain, too, and it's evident he is relishing the responsibility.

Can buzzword bingo bear fruit?

Experience? Check. Momentum? Check. Revenge? Check. Thistle are on the way to a line. Perhaps even a full house.

All the key words that people say are thrown out of the window at this stage of the season could be attributed to Doolan's side.

As both a player and manager, he has experienced the gruelling nature of the play-offs and he has a squad of players who do too.

Those who had to make the long journey home from Dingwall dejected last season will surely do all it takes to avoid such heartbreak again.

Similarly to then, Thistle are entering the two-legged ties in fine form.

They go to Tannadice undefeated in their last seven. That's better form that Raith and Airdrie.

And speaking of Rhys McCabe's side, Thistle have only suffered one defeat in their last 15 against them, although that did come at the start of this season.

For now, Thistle may be in the driving seat, but they've been here before and gone off track.