United’s return to the Premier Division was marked with a renewed kit sponsorship deal with Pony, who had already been supplying the Club’s kits for the past two seasons.
The tangerine Home shirt had a diagonal tiger style stripe effect through the material and for a major change to the usual designs, the sleeves were both entirely black. The collar went with a modern look to an old design, with a high collar and a V inset reminiscent of the popular look from the early 1970s.
Telecommunications company Telewest Communications struck a one year deal worth £100,000 for their logo to be on the front of the shirts, with their green sphere and black text appearing on a white panel. The circular Club badge, which had been introduced in 1993, was now placed on to a black shield shaped background panel, as was the fashion at the time for many clubs designs.
The shorts were black with a thick tangerine strip down each side, and the badge at the bottom right was again placed onto a shield background. The tangerine socks were topped with black, and also had two black bands near the bottom of the shin.
The Home kits competitive debut was the opening match of the 1996/97 season at Tannadice, where newly promoted United drew 1-1 with Motherwell.
After a poor start, manager Billy Kirkwood was replaced with Tommy McLean, who in his first month in charge brought in three Scandinavian players who would help turn the Club's season around. Erik Pedersen, Lars Zetterlund and Kjell Olofsson all went straight into the team, and after just two defeats in the next two months, the side went on an amazing 17 game unbeaten run which took them to a 3rd placed finish in the Premier Division, qualifying for Europe in their first season back in the top flight.
Both Home and Away kits from this season were continued into the 1997/98 season, but with a small modification to the shirt sponsors logo.