JUST before 5pm yesterday, Neil Lennon broke away from the remainder of Celtic’s backroom staff, gazed up at the posh seats at Hampden and held both thumbs aloft in the direction of the beaming Peter Lawwell and Dermot Desmond. Little did we suspect then, that like Roman emperors approving of the efforts of their gladiator, they were also issuing a formal seal of approval.

If the Northern Irishman is as good as his word, we “won’t see him for dust” in the next few days, as he heads off to Marbella for a lads’ weekend. While it is a well-earned rest, given he has done everything they have asked of him, it won't be long before he gets his feet back under the table in the manager's office on a permanent basis, starting the bid for nine-in-a-row and returning the club to the Champions League.

A treble winner as a player back in 2000/01, a clean sweep of domestic trophies had always eluded him as a manager. But the part he played yesterday in bringing home Scotland’s first ever treble treble will go a long way to embellishing the Lennon legend, not to mention honouring the memories of Stevie Chalmers and Billy McNeill, the two fallen Lisbon Lions whose numbers the players wore on their shorts. It wouldn't have seemed right somehow if he had walked off into the sunset.

Anyway, as the Northern Irishman himself said, yesterday was all about this remarkable group of Celtic players. Once again, they flat out refused to be beaten, roaring back from the concession of Ryan Edwards’ opener to break Hearts with two goals from Odsonne Edouard. As usual no-one did more to drag them back from the brink than Scott Brown, even if another part of the captain’s package was the unnecessary goading of Uche Ikpeazu following the final whistle.

While Lennon got his rewards, you had to spare a thought yesterday for Craig Levein, once again so close to silverware yet so far. Say what you like about that infamous 4-6-0 but if he continues to develop teams like this it is surely only is a matter of time until he finally gets his hands on some.

The success Rangers had against Celtic in the recent Old Firm derby obviously didn’t escape Levein's attention. He lined his team up in an identical narrow 4-3-3 shape, throwing in a curve ball by starting 16-year-old Aaron Hickey. The teenager, apparently unfazed by the notion of shadowing James Forrest all day, tiptoed forward to fire in the day’s first shot on goal, although it was comfortably claimed by Scott Bain.

By contrast, even grizzled veterans in this time-served Celtic team, seemed ill at ease. Mikael Lustig’s first act was to sclaff a ball high in the air, his second to head the ball out of play. Neil Lennon’s team was pretty much along expected lines, even if he bowed to the inevitable when it came to Kieran Tierney’s hip injury. With Michael Johnston starting wide left and Karamoko Dembele on the bench, they felt their way into the match until their first opening came along in 12 minutes, Tom Rogic finding a pocket of space down Hickey’s side and feeding Edouard, but the sliding Souttar timed his intervention well to intercept his dinked finish.

Played out on a greasy Hampden surface, this was a match of fearsome midfield tussles, and occasional last-ditch clearances, but there wasn’t much in the way of clear-cut chances and that suited Hearts fine.

Levein must have thought his time was finally going to come eight minutes into that second period when his side took a lead they could hardly be grudged. Again Hickey was involved, showing the composure a young Paul Lambert did for St Mirren here in the 1987 showpiece. He bought time on the ball and fed Arnaud Djoum, whose half-hit shot fell at the feet of Sean Clare. A blind backheel found Ryan Edwards, who poked the ball under Bain. So far out of the first team picture at Hearts after a loan spell at St Mirren that it is a miracle he even made this final, the Aussie whose dad once played for Rangers was as unlikely a cup hero as any.

It was then that Celtic’s self-defence mechanism kicked in. There was a noticeable step-up in intensity from Scott Brown in particular – as he and Steven MacLean attempted to get a rise out of each other in midfield. While he couldn’t provide the cross after galloping past three men, he had set the tone for his side and soon they were level. Goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal had a brain freeze, rushing out from goal to confront Edouard when he would have been far wiser to stay on his line. The Frenchman – latching onto a hopeful Johnny Hayes pass - stuck it past him, took the contact, and Celtic had a stonewall penalty. The goalkeeper’s misery was pretty much complete when he dived the right way, got his hand to the Frenchman’s spot kick but let it fly under him into the net.

Game on then. But the latter stages is when Celtic do their best work. With them, the winning goal seems almost like an inevitability. And so it proved again, even if the strike which won them this cup was agonisingly simple from Hearts point of view. Berra won one header but couldn’t get back into position by the time Lustig returned it with interest. Edouard breached the offside trap and clipped it over the advancing Zlamal as if it were the easiest thing in the world. The expected aerial onslaught arrived, but Berra couldn’t direct a Michael Smith cross in.

Celtic couldn’t go back to Parkhead in time honoured fashion, due to the Pro14 rugby final there. They will stop winning things sooner or later. But as of last night, as their team bus made its way up the Saltmarket to the Gallowgate, Glasgow remained unmistakeably green and white.