St Mirren are the last side to taste victory over United, winning 2-1 at Tannadice on November 10, and Houston travels to Paisley eager to avoid just a third away defeat of the season.
He said: "The last team to beat us was St Mirren at Tannadice; we've only lost one in 11 and it was them that beat us. They came, sat in, hit us really well on the counter attack, scored a couple of goals and deservedly won the match."
Houston added: "I think this will be a different type of game, where they'll be expected to make the running. We don't need to chase the game like we do when we're in amongst our home fans.
"We're resilient and we can make sure we're organised and hard to beat. We've only lost two games away from home this season - against Rangers and Motherwell. It's a decent record and something we want to keep up and protect."
Jon Daly and Scott Robertson are suspended for the trip to the Buddies after being sent off for two bookable offences in United's 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock last Saturday, but Houston is boosted by the return of defender Garry Kenneth.
Kenneth had been struggling with a dead leg but came off the bench to net a late equaliser at Rugby Park. He will be a direct replacement for striker Daly, who was operating at centre back at Killie.
Paul Dixon (ankle), Mihael Kovacevic (knee), Scott Severin (foot) and Darren Dods (knee) remain out, but Danny Swanson (back) is set to be named on the bench despite only recently returning to training.
Houston added: "We're short on bodies. Swanson will be added to the squad - he's not fit, anywhere near it - simply because he might have to fill a place on the bench.
"It's just getting a team fit enough to go on the park. Again injuries and suspensions are dominating our dressing room - it's never ending."