Should Dundee's neighbours merge?
Is there an argument for the merger of Dundee's two clubs?
It was a Kilmarnock fan who asked me the question recently in a spirit of openness and mischief-making. His other suggestion was that Auchinleck Talbot should join with Ayr United to create a Super League junior club.
Nevertheless, the issue is worth examining, because it's one that's often seen by those outside the city as a cure for some of the ills that afflict the two Dundee outfits.
There are pros and cons to the debate.
The key question, and it's one that could be asked of a whole host of Scottish neighbouring clubs, is this: is there substantially more to be gained than lost by a merger of two historic rivals, each with their own rich history and tradition.
Let's deal with the 'potential' upsides first. In theory, the crowds of the two clubs would be aggregated. United's average crowd at this early stage of the season is around 7,700, while Dundee have been pulling in over 5,000 at Dens Park.
In theory then, a joint city side could attract crowds of around 12,000 to 13,000 for home games. A highly successful side could probably add another couple of thousand to that figure, thereby matching anyone outside of the Old Firm at the turnstiles.
A shared stadium would reduce current outlay and maximise revenue - and one team would require just one training facility.
Meantime, advertisers and sponsors might be more inclined to back a joint city side, while the city council, which in the past has been reluctant to back one side for fear of offending the other, could find ways to lend support without any accusations of favouritism.
Add to that other economies of scale in terms of a shared merchandising outlet, one set of catering facilities, ticketing arrangements, etc, and the pros appear to mount.
However, football isn't rational. Economics are one thing, passion and tradition are another and they take no account of what might or might not make good business sense.
There is no guarantee that the two sets of supporters would simply combine their numbers and go to see the new city team, a club without the history and tradition to sustain fans through the bleak periods, which are the reality for most supporters outside of Celtic and Rangers.
In fact, it's possible that a new merged side could be less than the sum of its parts. As fans recoiled at the notion of having lost a part of themselves, a new team could attract fewer fans jointly than either did separately.
Even before you decide which colour of strip to play in, which players will be kept and, crucially, what name the new merged side would adopt, there is one huge and burning question that would be critical to any possible success. Where would the team play ?
Neither side's fans would accept a move to their greatest rival's ground. Tannadice and Dens Park are non-starters. The leaving of the spiritual home to set up camp at the enemy's abode would be like swallowing a cyanide capsule for diehard Blue Noses and Arabs.
A new stadium then. Great idea, but who pays. The value of the two Dundee grounds combined would be between £3m-£4m in the current depressed land market. A new stadium might cost anywhere between five and seven times that figure. That's before you count the £6m of debt that United are carrying and the fact that Dundee don't even own Dens Park to sell.
History too plays a huge part here. United and Dundee have changed dramatically in the last few decades. There was a time when United were the smaller by some way of the two city clubs. In those days, a great many fans were happy to traverse the two grounds, watching a free-flowing Dundee at Dens in the top league and then paying one and sixpence to watch United at Tannadice in the old B division the next week.
They would have their favourite team, of course, but saw little wrong in lending support to the neighbours who were no real threat to them.
I think that's when battle lines were drawn. For the first time, United were a serious and potent threat to Dundee's dominance and a harder-edged relationship between the fans emerged.
Dundee had their glory years in the sixties, winning the league and making the semi-final of the European Cup. United's great years came later, also reaching the European Cup semi-final, a Uefa Cup final and winning domestic honours.
That set in train a different dynamic for the relationship between the fans of the clubs and, as a result, makes any hope of a merger an almost impossible one to sell.
It has been talked about in the past and, on at least one occasion, was only a signature away from happening. The fact that it didn't happen tells its own story.
The first city derby in five years will have been played by the time you read this. It's ostensibly a friendly to raise money for youth development. In truth, though, it will convey bragging rights to one side or the other until they meet again.
A merged city side might make sense to a business student, but to Arabs and Blue Noses alike, it would signal the death of their club, which no artificial reproduction could ever replace.
Dundee and Dundee Utd will, I think, be around for a long time yet.