Three stands of visiting fans was a much talked about departure from the norm at McDiarmid Park.
Sadly what happened on the pitch when St Johnstone face Celtic these days was all too familiar.
There was little enjoyment to be derived for Perth supporters who had to witness their team blown away in the first half by a ruthless title-chasing team. You would have forgiven the 2,404 of them had they been watching through their fingers as Olivier Ntcham, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths put the league leaders 3-0 up after 26 minutes.
Celtic certainly seem to save their best for Saints (the running total since the end of 2017 is 30-0). Tommy Wright’s men should take it as compliment.
Swallow your medicine and move on.
The fact that the last hour and a bit was goalless will mean there shouldn’t be any lingering scars, as has been the case in the past.
There were three changes to the Saints starting line-up following the weekend victory against Kilmarnock, with Callum Hendry, Wallace Duffy and Michael O’Halloran all coming in.
Ryan Christie was back from suspension for Celtic but only made the bench.
The hosts had the twin threat up front of Odsonne Edouard and Griffiths to worry about from the off, though. And there were ominous signs when they linked up well for Celtic’s first attack with just a minute on the clock.
It ended up with Edouard shooting low and Zander Clark gathering the ball at the second attempt.
Greg Taylor hasn’t had regular game-time since signing from Killie in the summer and would have been determined to make his mark in this one. On five minutes his cross from the left picked out an unmarked Griffiths who should have scored but directed his header wide.
The opening goal a minute later came from the opposite flank. Forrest had the assist and Ntcham the near post headed finish.
It was non-stop pressure at this stage, with Clark’s goal under constant threat.
Next up to have a go was Taylor, whose saved shot came back to Griffiths. The Scotland striker’s effort was then blocked by Callum Booth.
Clark, who could have done without having to keep out a sliced clearance from his own team-mate Liam Gordon, was beaten by a Callum McGregor 20-yarder that scraped past the post.
Getting out of their own half was an achievement the way things were going but Saints were able to register a shot on target after 11 minutes. Michael O’Halloran’s effort didn’t cause Fraser Forster any concern but it was something.
Ali McCann also had an attempt on 19 minutes from outside the box that Forster again collected comfortably.
Just as Saints were enjoying something approaching a respite, the second goal was put past them.
Wallace Duffy’s hesitation was fatal, McGregor quickly shifted the ball out to Forrest and his quick feet had Scott Tanser chasing shadows before the crisply struck shot gave Clark no chance.
It was 3-0 before the half-hour. Taylor crossed for Griffiths, whose controlled volley spoke of a striker topping up his confidence levels with every passing goal.
To Saints’ credit they managed to stop the bleeding for the remainder of the first 45 and got into the dressing room to regroup still three down.
It was no surprise that Wright made a couple of changes during the break. Jamie McCart made his debut in place of Booth and Liam Craig replaced Jason Holt.
The lone striker role was a thankless task on a night like this and to Hendry’s credit he performed it as well as he could have in the circumstances.
Six minutes after the re-start hard work out wide earned himself a shooting chance, which forced a save out of Forster.
On 63 minutes his race was run and on came Chris Kane.
There was a penalty shot for Saints when McCann claimed he was tripped in the box but referee John Beaton wasn’t interested.
Whether it was a consequence of Celtic being happy with what they had or Saints’ improvement – probably a combination of both – the chances were drying up for the Glasgow side.
Forrest had a shot from inside the box on 73 minutes but it trundled wide.
A few minutes later Forster had to make a fine save to turn a David Wotherspoon shot round the post and a Jason Kerr header was cleared off the line in injury time.
A 3-0 defeat is never a result to be celebrated but the second half performance will give Wright cause for genuine hope that Saints’ form curve will be heading upwards again very soon. The applause from the Main Stand told you as much.