The journey begun by Brendan Rodgers at Hampden Park in 2016 was completed by another Northern Irishman at the same venue, as Neil Lennon steered Celtic to a third successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours - the unprecedented treble treble.
In claiming the William Hill Scottish Cup for the 49th time in their history, Celtic were not subtle, but they were effective.
Hearts, despite much gloomy prognostication about their chances, pushed this contest all the way, to the extent that Lennon’s players were forced to exploit blatant time-wasting tactics to see themselves over the line.
Those who choose to diminish Celtic’s accomplishment cite recent years as arguably the most uncompetitive period in Scottish football history, but this game gave lie to the assumption that they have had only to pick their way through opponents who have rolled over.
Ryan Edwards typified Hearts’ defiance. The Australian was considered surplus to requirements at Tynecastle during the first half of the season, when he was loaned to St Mirren, but he was allowed to return in January and repaid the decision by opening the scoring after 52 minutes.
Given Hearts’ prominence in Scottish football, it was remarkable that these teams had not met in the final since 1956, in an era when Hampden held multitudes, in that instance a crowd of 133,000, who witnessed a 3-1 win for the Jam Tarts.
A repeat was not considered likely by the bookmakers, who had rated any Hearts success on this occasion at 17/2, a price pushed out by the absence of Steven Naismith and Olly Lee.
Both casualties were among the Hearts party who walked the pitch two hours before kick-off, Lee with the aid of crutches. The very few Hearts fans who had gained entry by that stage were animated by the sight of the 16-year-old Aaron Hickey, a veteran of two appearances, his second coming in last week’s 2-1 league defeat at Parkhead.
Hickey became the youngest player to appear in a Scottish Cup final when he started at left-back, and turned out to be a contender for man of the match. It was his cool play that helped set up the opener, as he checked inside on his right foot to find Arnaud Djoum, whose mis-kick shuttled the ball on to Sean Clare.
When Clare’s back-heeled pass rolled into Edwards’ path, the midfielder nutmegged Scott Bain to find the net in front of the euphoric Hearts support. Celtic, having been one-paced and unimaginative, now faced a tangible threat to their historic ambition.
Once again, though, they reached deep into their reserves of will to impose themselves on stubborn opponents. They were helped by Zdenek Zlamal’s rash decision to challenge Odsonne Edouard inside the box and concede a needless penalty kick when Christophe Berra was on hand to cover the danger.
Edouard converted the kick ably – although Zlamal got a touch to the ball – and Celtic’s record signing took his goals tally for the season to 23 with the decisive intervention in the 82nd minute. Again, he was aided by defensive error, this time when John Souttar allowed the Frenchman to peel off him and fasten on to a long-headed clearance from Mikael Lustig.
Edouard’s finish was precise and lethal and Zlamal felt the draught of it as it lanced past his ear. Lennon, meanwhile, celebrated extravagantly by the side of the pitch. He had more cause to celebrate afterwards when offered the job of Celtic manager for the second time, his period as interim boss having been so effective.
Peter Lawwell, the Celtic chief executive, confirmed the appointment by saying: “Neil in our moment of need stood up to the plate. Over the next few days, we will work out the details.
“We're absolutely delighted. Fantastic day, fantastic achievement today - probably never to be repeated. He's done a fantastic job in difficult circumstances.
“When you look at his credentials, he's a Celtic man, he's made for Celtic. He knows Glasgow, he knows the city, he knows what's required and he's a winner. At this point in terms of looking at the squad, there's nobody better that I've worked with who's got a better eye for a player.
“I think it’s better to do that [offer him the job] tonight to just kill the speculation.”
Heart of Midlothian (4-5-1): Zlamal; M Smith, Souttar, Berra, Hickey; Clare (Wighton 75), Edwards, Haring (Bozanic 80), Djoum, Mulraney; MacLean (Ikpeazu 78). Subs (unused): Doyle (g), Shaughnessy, Cochrane, Burns. Booked: Zlamal, Djoum, Ikpeazu.
Celtic (4-2-3-1): Bain; Lustig Simunovic, Ajer, Hayes (Bitton 89); Brown, McGregor; Forrest, Rogic (Ntcham 70), Johnston (Sinclair 72); Edouard. Subs (unused): De Vries (g), Toljan, Benkovic, Dembele. Booked: Bain, Brown.
Referee: Willie Collum.
Neil Lennon's in tears:
It’s emotional. It’s probably the most emotional I’ve ever felt at this club. You’ll never see this again. It’s all about them. I had to whip them a bit at half-time because we didn’t turn up in the first half. And then ... we said if Hearts score, we’d come again. And we needed Hearts to score to get our energy levels up. And the response from then on was brilliant.
I said Hearts wouldn’t let us off easy, and it was a very good final. Edouard is a superstar now. That’s nine trophies out of nine. It is remarkable. They have done the club so proud.
It’s a bit too early to start talking about [my future], it’s not about me.”
Scott Brown boasts:
It’s phenomenal. Hearts gave us a great game. But our quality, yet again! For the fans it’s phenomenal. And that’s people saying we’ve had a poor season! We’ve done the treble yet again, the third one in a row, and now we push on next season. If we turn up, we win the game.
Full time: Hearts 1 Celtic 2
Celtic have won the Scottish Cup and, in doing so, a historic treble Treble!
Neil Lennon hits the deck in disbelief, shares a warm embrace with a gracious Craig Levein, and the Celtic fans explode in domestic celebration for the ninth straight time.
90+3 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 2
Michael Smith loads the box with a couple of deep crosses, the second of which is just about claimed by Scott Bain.
90+1 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 2
There will be five added minutes of Christophe Berra wondering when he can go up front.
89 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 2
Edouard leads a Celtic charge, and feeds Sinclair out to his left - his 20-yard shot is blocked behind for a corner, to eat up a few more precious seconds.
87 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 2
Mulraney picks the ball up on the left, and guides in a tantalising inswinger with his right foot, which narrowly evades no fewer than three Hearts heads on its way through!
85 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 2
Hearts try to summon the kitchen sink for a late push, but Celtic now have the counter-attacking chance they hadn't had all afternoon.
GOAL! Hearts 1 Celtic 2 (Edouard, 82 min)
Just as it looks like we were meandering outr way to extra time, Celtic might just have won it! A booming header upfield catches Berra flat-footed at last, and Odsonne Edouard has the freedom of Hampden to stroll through and clip a superb finish beyond Zlamal! Eight minutes away from the Treble Treble...
81 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 1
Hearts sub: Oliver Bozanic replaces the knackered-looking Peter Haring.
78 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 1
How fit is Uche Ikpeazu? We'll have at least 12 minutes to find out - he replaces Steven MacLean up front for Hearts.
75 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 1
Hearts change: Craig Wighton on for Sean Clare.
73 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 1
Scott Sinclair has now replaced Michael Johnston too: Celtic are officially Going For It now.
70 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 1
Change for Celtic: Tom Rogic off, Olivier Ntcham on.
68 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 1
Chance! Hearts drift in a corner from the right and suddenly Peter Haring has a free header...but he misses the target!
65 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 1
Arnaud Djoum sees yellow for going in late on Hayes, as this game finally starts to bubble. About time.
GOAL! Hearts 1 Celtic 1 (Edouard pen, 62 min)
...and he just about squeezes the ball into the bottom-left corner! Zlamal got a glove and a half to it, but couldn't stop it. He probably should have done. Game on!
PENALTY TO CELTIC!
Edouard into the box, the angle is narrow, Zlamal rushes out and takes him out! Penalty all day long. Edouard to take...
60 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 0
Celtic have a free kick on the right, but Hearts deploy a high line, which inevitably sees the ball curl over and out for a goal kick to some groans from the green-and-white half of Hampden (and gleeful cheers from the rest)
58 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 0
Scott Brown tries to grasp the scruff of the game's neck by storming into the Hearts box, but his cut-back makes its way into the gloves of Zlamal via a deflected clearance.
56 min - Hearts 1 Celtic 0
Celtic's apparent lack of a Plan B was an issue, and now it's a big issue. They haven't tested the Hearts defence - long balls or not - in the first 10 minutes of this second half.
GOAL! Hearts 1 (Edwards, 53 min) Celtic 0
Hello! After we're all done laughing at the Stupidest Kick-Off of All Time, the ball breaks free in the Celtic box, seven yards out, and Ryan Edwards tucks the ball underneath Bain and into the back of the net! The Treble Treble is in the balance now!
49 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Jonny Hayes to the rescue again as Hearts threaten with a cross from the left that's just too high for Clare. Moments later, Hayes is at the other end to spank a 25-yarder into the Hampden wilderness behind the Hearts goal.
46 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Hearts kick off....by floating the ball very deliberately out for a Celtic throw-in by the corner flag.
We go again...
Celtic's players are already out on the pitch, as Hearts keep them waiting. No changes for either side at half time.
Half time: Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Honestly, that was dreadful. The conditions are made for a blood-and-thunder encounter, but the life has been sucked out of this game by 1) Hearts' refusal to emerge from their 4-6-0 shell and 2) Celtic's inability to come up with an alternative way to deal with it.
45 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Kristoffer Ajer goes into the book for some high studs in a challenge on Clare on halfway, ending a disappointing 45-minute wait for the first card of the game. God, let's have half-time please.
44 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
A Hearts corner gets their fans going, as does a meaty 50-50 challenge soon after, and now they have another chance to load the box. Clare swings the ball in from the right, the ball reaches Berra on the far side...but he slips, in rather comical fashion.
41 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Christophe Berra - who, with all due respect, can barely move other than to head a ball away - is comfortably dealing with Celtic's attacks almost by himself. Might be an idea to make him run a bit, but I'm no tactics expert.
38 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Another attack down the left for Celtic, another cross from Hayes, another sigh of relief from Hearts.
34 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
This first half has descended into a tentative mess of minor fouls, long balls and stodgy passing.
30 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Another teasing cross from Mulraney bounces up awkwardly off the thigh of Jozo Simunovic, and Sean Clare crashes into Mikael Lustig in search of the loose ball.
27 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Down the left flank, Hayes and McGregor are easily Celtic's best outlet, and they combine again to find space for a low cross into the middle, which ends with James Forrest poking the ball goalwards with the outside of his boot, but it's blocked.
24 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Edouard thinks he's clean through again, but up goes the offside flag. Replays then show that he was just on, but Celtic don't make a fuss out of it.
21 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Celtic counter after a poor pass from Arnaud Djoum, and Tom Rogic looks to feed Odsonne Edouard on his right foot in the box, but his attempt at a clipped finish is blocked by the sliding Zdenek Zlamal for a corner, which Hearts clear again.
17 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Aaron Hickey sends a low shit skidding into the waiting gloves of Scott Bain in the Celtic goal, the first attempt of any note so far. This game's momentum is being halted by a series of clumsy fouls.
14 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Another Mulraney cross gives the Celtic defence something to worry about, but Hayes does his job well at the back post to head powerfully away.
11 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Hearts settling into it now, with Peter Haring getting on the ball and spraying passes out to the wings. Nothing to set the pulse racing yet, though.
8 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
The Hearts strikers aren't remotely keen on pressing the Celtic centre-halves in possession, such is their adventurous gameplan. At the other end, Christophe Berra heads two corners away.
5 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
Celtic dominate the early possession as they search left and right for an opening. Jonny Hayes sets Callum McGregor free down the left and his low cross into the danger area is poked behind for a corner! Hearts hang on.
2 min - Hearts 0 Celtic 0
A light fog of pyro smoke descends on the early knockings, which lends a dramatic air to the scene as the ball pops from one midfield to the other. Jake Mulraney curls in a cross for Hearts from the left and Ryan Edwards bundles the ball well wide!
Let's hope for a barnstormer, either way. Celtic gets us off and under way in their familiar colours, and Hampden looks magnificent.
Players are out at Hampden...
...and we're moments away from starting to find out if the Treble Treble will be a thing.
How can Hearts stop Celtic?
Do Hearts stand a chance of halting the Celtic juggernaut this afternoon? Well JJ Bull has examined how both teams might approach the final. Here's a snippet:
Neil Lennon's side are the clear favourites and highly likely to end the match as treble treble champions. However, complacency can lead to mistakes and Hearts will be hoping to prey on just one.
Since Levein will almost certainly field two strikers up front, Lennon may opt for a back-three to gain numerical advantage and ensure the battering ram approach doesn't work. During his time at Hibs a 3-5-2 was common and Celtic have utilised it too since Lennon's return to Parkhead, making use of Kristoffer Ajer's ability to carry the ball into midfield and act as auxiliary playmaker when Celtic have the ball.
Those teams again in black and white
Hearts:Zlamal, Michael Smith, Souttar, Berra, Hickey, Haring, Djoum, Edwards, Clare, MacLean, Mulraney.
Subs: Shaughnessy, Bozanic, Doyle, Wighton, Ikpeazu, Cochrane, Burns.
Celtic: Bain, Lustig, Simunovic, Ajer, Hayes, Brown, McGregor, Forrest, Rogic, Johnston, Edouard.
Subs: Toljan, Bitton, Sinclair, Ntcham, De Vries, Benkovic, Dembele. Referee: William Collum (Scotland)
Hearts' starting XI
The teams are in
Here's how Celtic line-up
Brown hails Rodgers legacy
Scott Brown has hailed the Brendan Rodgers legacy that has taken Celtic from being the nearly men of Hampden to the brink of the triple treble.
The Hoops captain will look to lead his men to their third straight domestic clean sweep when they take on Hearts in the final of the Scottish Cup this afternoon.
But the veteran midfielder, who has shrugged off injury fears to insist he will be fit to face Craig Levein's Jambos, remembers a time when the Parkhead side did not always have it their own way at the National Stadium.
Under former boss Ronny Deila, Celtic twice suffered heartache on the slopes of Mount Florida as Inverness then Rangers dumped them out at the Scottish Cup's last four.
Before that, Neil Lennon had his own Hampden tribulations with Ross County, Gers, Kilmarnock, Hearts and St Mirren all getting the better of the Northern Irishman's team.
But Lennon will lead out a very different Celtic side this weekend after returning as caretaker in the wake of Rodgers' Leicester defection.
It is now three years since Hibernian became the last Scottish side apart from the Hoops to claim a domestic title but Brown believes the arrival of Rodgers that summer sparked a change in mindset that has brought on an era of domination.
Asked to think back to Hibs' 2016 triumph over Rangers, the Celtic captain said: "I remember feeling a little bit jealous that they were in a cup final and we weren't.
"But Brendan came in and changed our mindset.
"We didn't have a great track record at Hampden before that but he made us realise how to change our mindset, how to improve, how to win.
"While he was here we won seven trophies on the trot. Now Neil's here, we need to make sure we make it nine on the spin for him.
"Brendan pushed us to another level. It was great man management more than anything. He made us believe in ourselves.
"Neil's also very good at motivating and he'll do that before the game too."