Critics said it was a gamble that would never work.
In the 26 years since Alex Smith guided the Buddies to the 1987 Scottish Cup, six bosses – including big names like Davie Hay and legends Jimmy Bone and Tony Fitzpatrick (twice) – have failed to land a majortrophy success.
But two days after slamming a sledgehammer through that sequence, ex-Cowdenbeath gaffer Danny Lennon has been showered with praise by a Saints stalwart who played a key role in the Paisley club's first-ever League Cup triumph in the 3-2 victory over Hearts.
David van Zanten had his SPL career resurrected by Lennon when the Buddies boss snapped him up from Hamilton in the summer of 2010 and made him one of his first signings at St Mirren Park.
Since then, Vanzy has been re-energised by his gaffer's adherence to the passing game and complete belief in his tailored 'total football' philosophy, marvelled at Lennon's managerial ability to get the best out of players who had not been performing at their best.
Midfield maverick Paul McGowan, former Scotland players Gary Teale and Steven Thompson as well as centre-back Marc McAusland are just a few of the players who owe a debt of thanks to the Paisley club's boss.
Now van Zanten says it is time that the 'other' managerial Lennon in the SPL finally got his just deserts.
"The gaffer deserves huge credit for everything he has done at the club," said the 30-year-old. "He came here with a total belief in building a team that could produce passing football and he has moulded this side into one capable of doing that.
"To be fair to the club, they took a chance on him, considering he had just taken Cowdenbeath to the Second Division title and hadn't worked at the top level before.
"But he has more than repaid the board and the chairman (Stewart Gilmour) for their faith in him."
He went on: "Before the final on Sunday, I looked around the dressing room at the guys and each one of us owes the gaffer a vote of thanks for giving us a chance.
"Players like myself and, say, Jim Goodwin, he's taken from other SPL clubs and redefined what we do to get more out of us.
"Young players like John McGinn, at just 18, have shown the belief in to play in a major semi against Celtic and cup final against Hearts and will benefit hugely from that experience.
"Then you have guys like Conor Newton and Paul Dummett he has snapped up on loan deals from down south and again had the courage to play them in a League Cup final.
"At the other end of the scale he has persuaded experienced internationals like Gary Teale and Stevie Thompson to come to the club and they are enjoying their football more than ever and running about like kids.
"Like I said, when you take all of that into account, the gaffer deserves huge credit for all of that."
While Saints' hopes of attaining a top-six SPL berth may have gone for this season, van Zanten says it is vital that the Paisley men use the League Cup triumph to kick on next term.
The Buddies full-back said: "When you look back at the teams we have beaten to win this trophy then we have had to do it the hard way. We beat Aberdeen at Pittodrie on penalties, had to beat Celtic in the semi-final and then it was Hearts in the final.
"So we can take huge confidence from all of that and the young lads will only get better, so this team is capable of going on from here. Next season we have got to use this experience to make sure we are in the top six from start to finish.
"But for the remainder of this season we will be playing our football with a smile on our faces and just trying to be as consistent as possible."