Many derbies take place in cities where teams share a stadium, but this weekend's SPL encounter sees United cross the road from their Tannadice home for the eagerly anticipated away fixture.
Houston's first experiences of Dundee derbies came at Dens Park in a pre-season match in July and a month later in the SPL at Tannadice, his side winning 3-0 on both occasions.
Houston said: "It's unique that you're walking to an away match. I've never, ever experienced that.
"There's plenty of security there, but it's nice to be able to walk up - and I've only done it once in the pre-season friendly.
"It's better after the match because you've won and the supporters are not giving you stick when you're walking down the hill.
"Hopefully late on Sunday afternoon we're getting cheered walking back down to Tannadice."
Dundee were awarded a place in the top-flight just days after the pre-season loss to United, benefiting from Rangers' demise by fulfilling the 'Club 12' place on the fixture list.
It meant the return of the derby fixture, one Houston is determined his in-form side win to halt a mini-revival from the Dark Blues, who have won three of their last five games.
Houston added: "I've been here six years this month and for almost six years we never had a derby. I always wondered what it was going to be like.
"It's a huge game. We've had a couple of derbies this season. Thankfully the results have gone in our favour, but I don't think we've played that well.
"But a derby match isn't all about playing well, it's about winning.
"Favourites go out the window when it comes to a derby match.
"Sometimes you need a wee break and I look at the last derby match when Nicky Riley had a double chance and our goalkeeper saved it.
"We got goals at a good time. I honestly believe in the two derby matches we've played we've not played well, but we won.
"That's what kept everybody happy. It would be nice to win on Sunday, first and foremost. It would also be nicer to win having played that bit better than in the previous two."
Rather than a build-up to the derby fixture, focus this week has been on a dispute between United and the team Dundee replaced in the SPL, Rangers.
United were on Monday drawn to host Rangers in February's fifth round of the Scottish Cup, immediately prompting calls for a boycott from fans of the Glasgow club furious at their top-flight expulsion.
Rangers chief executive Charles Green announced on Tuesday his club would not be taking up their ticket allocation for their first away match at SPL opposition since they were voted out.
Two days later Green confirmed that Rangers, despite the non-attendance of fans, would still accept the gate receipts to which they are entitled, with the proceeds going to charity.
Houston denied it was a distraction ahead of this week's match and played down the situation.
He said: "All I'm interested in is the game and the football side and I'll let the powers that be fall out or argue about who's going to be there or not.
"It will not matter to me. It will not matter to (Rangers manager) Ally McCoist either, because the only thing we're interested in is trying to win that match.
"Whoever's in the park and how many are in the park, doesn't really matter to me.
"It's all about trying to win against a good Rangers side who have got international players. Because they're a Third Division team by name, doesn't mean they're a Third Division team by quality."