A LOT can change in a year in football. Tomorrow afternoon, Stephen Robinson will be front and centre of a pretty Motherwell picture. Stepping on to a team bus bound for Hampden and the Betfred Cup final, the crisp, sharp new suit freshly bought for such a grand occasion will feel all more special on the journey along Prospecthill Road given the team tailor-made in his own image sitting behind him.

It was a rather different and dishevelled scene little under a year ago, though, as Robinson’s time at Oldham, his first managerial post, teetered on the brink of collapse in the most trying of circumstances. Thrust into a position where he had just three weeks to sign 23 players and make it work, the pressures of attempting to deal with an impossible situation could not be further removed from the prospect which awaits him this weekend.

“Last Boxing Day my sons were getting death threats and there were tears on the bus,” said Robinson, who departed his post 12 days into the new year. “We were beaten by Sheffield Wednesday away. At the time you don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel with it but it has totally transformed. I had my reservations about going into management again but when you’ve got good people at this football club – which we have – that really want you to be successful, that was the deciding factor for me.

“I certainly feel that [I have a point to prove] after Oldham, yeah. I went to a place where I was given six months and signed 23 players in three weeks and try to be successful. If you get sacked you always have a point to prove.”

It is a point which has already been proven. The hoisting aloft of a trophy draped in claret and amber ribbons will just further the reputation of Robinson and a group of players who have defied doubters and detractors all season. Fourteen wins from 20 competitive games make up the brief story of Motherwell’s season, a narrative which has only helped to breed a confidence in their own ability ahead of what is arguably their most difficult challenge.

Already en route to the final with Celtic Motherwell have beaten Aberdeen and Rangers with a combined goals for against of five and zero respectively in those two games. Arguably with the best striker outwith of Celtic in their attack in the form of Louis Moult, the likes of captain Carl McHugh, iconic centre-half Cedric Kipre and even homegrown Scotland under-21 internationalists Chris Cadden and Allan Campbell all employ a work ethic and drive to show their worth to great effect.

“I think I’ve probably played my whole life like that. I wasn’t an exceptional football by any stretch of the imagination – I was alright – but what I didn’t have in ability I made up for with hard work, energy and desire,” explains Robinson. “Here, Allan Campbell epitomises that here. He has plenty of ability – certainly more than I did – but he’ll be the first in in the morning and the last out, if it’s 10 press ups he’ll do 11.

“That’s the type of boys we’ve tried to surround ourselves with and perhaps you look for the same characters in your players.

“We’ve gone to Aberdeen and beat them 2-0 on Saturday, outplayed them and outperformed them. So why not? Why can’t we surprise Celtic? In 64 games people have tried. We know that and I’m not going to give them any motivation but we’re going to concentrate on our strengths and I genuinely believe that their strengths are our weaknesses.”

For all the plaudits and admirational comments thrown Motherwell's way, not many outwith the walls of Fir Park give this wee team from Lanarkshire much hope of ending Celtic's 64 domestic unbeaten run. But if there is a club to do it right now in Scotland, it's surely this one. And what a time to do it.

Twenty six years have drifted by since a Motherwell manager, then Tommy McLean, stepped off a bus in Mount Florida only to return to it a few hours later with a piece of silverware securely strapped in beside him. Much has sadly changed since those days - the iconic images of Davie Cooper and Phil O'Donnell in that 4-3 win over Dundee United in one of the best finals in Scottish football history will live on forever - but the scale of the task - and potential achievement - for Robinson and his team will not frighten this group. In fact, quite the opposite.

"We have done it the hard way. If you’re going to win cups, you’ve got to beat those teams. Now we get crack at the best team in the league.

"It was just that we were very physical. We beat Aberdeen and nobody really talks about it. So I’m not sure people like us beating the big boys. People complain that there is no competition and then, when you go and beat them, they don’t particularly like it.

"It will be a proud moment for me, but especially for the club. When I was first here, you hear the stories, and speak to Stephen Craigan and Las. This club struggled at times. Lots of people lost jobs. It’s a community that suffered from a lot of job losses around the steelworks. So to go out and lead them with pride and maybe pull off a result would be absolutely huge for me. I’m proud to be at the front of it."