Peter Houston spun on his heels, turned his back on the play and covered his eyes with his hands.
He knew the dream was over.
It was then, with horrible clarity, that he realised, after 2010, he wouldn’t be doing it again.
The Falkirk manager’s despair was there for all at Hampden to see as he witnessed his defender David McCracken slip near the halfway line and allow Inverness Caley Thistle’s Marley Watkins to rob him of the ball with just four minutes left on the clock.
His agony was understandable, too, because like everyone else watching the William Hill Scottish Cup final he must have been waiting for a Falkirk winner, not a stunning sucker punch from an ICT side that by then were down to 10 men and hanging on by their fingertips.
The Championship side had been a credit to themselves, their excellent fans and their division by playing the Premiership team off the park in the second half.
Were football a fair business and we all know how cruel it can be then Watkins would not have raced up the park before shooting at Falkirk keeper Jamie MacDonald.
Had justice been done on Saturday then MacDonald would not have made a hash of the save, pushing the ball right into the path of match winner James Vincent for a tap-in.
However, as has happened a few times in finals, the players who deserved to succeed instead traipsed up the stairs to collect losers’ medals.
A poor ICT performance had been enough to claim their first-ever trophy and Houston, who led Dundee United to glory against Ross County five years earlier, failed to become a two-time winner.
While he himself was composed after the defeat, the Bairns boss revealed both McCracken and MacDonald were inconsolable.
Houston said: “We believed in ourselves in the second half and I thought we were dominant.
“We put them under pressure, their players went down with cramp and when we got the equaliser I thought there was only one team going on to win it.
“But Jamie is in tears and so is David McCracken.
“David has slipped and Jamie is disappointed with his effort at the second goal but these guys have been superb, they should be proud of themselves.
“Human nature is that you make mistake sometimes.
“I thought McCracken was brilliant and MacDonald has been brilliant for us this season.
“I am gutted for the players and supporters. We are unhappy and disappointed but they can look at themselves in the mirror.”
Inverness took the lead six minutes before half-time when Watkins rounded MacDonald before sliding the ball into the net.
The Highlanders were reduced to 10 men on 75 minutes when Carl Tremarco was sent off for preventing Blair Alston from breaking clear.
With the Bairns having been much the better side in the second half, they grabbed a deserved equaliser on 80 minutes when Peter Grant headed in a freekick at the back post.
However, then came disaster for the Bairns as ICT sub Vincent drove home the winner on 86 minutes after MacDonald parried a Watkins shot right into his path.
Victorious Inverness manager John Hughes said: “I don’t know how James got up there because he was playing right-back but I was absolutely delighted that we got the goal.
“Had it gone to extra-time I don’t know if we would have had enough in the tank to see it out.
“All credit to Falkirk, they got that extra little bit of luck in terms of Carl being sent off and that put them on the front foot.
“But we had to stand up and deal with it. I think the spirit to dig it out was absolutely exceptional.”
Scorer Vincent added: “It would have been easy after going down to 10 men to park the bus and try to hang on, even for penalties.
“However, Marley has been brilliant all season and he did really well to bully the lad and then go on the run. I was just happy to score at such a crucial stage.”
His teammate Danny Devine added: “What a season!
“To top it all off with the Scottish Cup is absolutely amazing.
“It has been a long hard campaign but it has also been the greatest season in the club’s history.”