The taste of derby success was bitter-sweet for Dundee United as they missed out on fourth spot in the Premiership because of the result at Pittodrie.
St Johnstone’s victory over Aberdeen meant it will be the Perth men who will have to wait to see if Inverness Caley Thistle can lift the Scottish Cup and send them into the Europa League.
Still, this fourth success out of five against Dundee had the United fans on their feet applauding and did, as manager Jackie McNamara wanted, finish a difficult season on a high note.
It was a comfortable and deserved win for the Tangerines, with star striker Nadir Ciftci sending them on their way with a goal after only eight minutes.
He added a penalty on 31 minutes and then Blair Spittal made it 3-0 with 50 minutes on the clock.
The Tangerines made just two changes to the team that started the 3-0 loss up at Inverness.
Back in came Ryan McGowan and Spittal, with Calum Butcher and Charlie Telfer dropping to the bench.
Following their home draw against Aberdeen, the Dark Blues drafted in Thomas Konrad, Simon Ferry and Stephen McGinn in place of Kostadin Gadzhalov, Calvin Colquhoun and Kevin Thomson.
The previous two derbies couldn’t have been more different, with United hammering their city rivals 6-2 on January 1 and the Dens men getting revenge by recording their first derby win in a decade with a comfortable 3-1 victory in April.
It was a feisty start to the final fixture of the league campaign, with tackles flying in the opening minutes.
A Luka Tankulic shot was the first attempt on goal on three minutes but the German’s effort was mishit and it ran through to United keeper Rado Cierzniak.
On eight minutes, the home team took a dramatic lead.
A superb chipped pass from inside his own half from Chris Erskine beat the Dundee offside trap and landed perfectly for Ciftci.
Goalie Kyle Letheren raced from goal to try to intercept but his challenge was a weak one and Ciftci emerged with the ball, took a touch and then slid it into the empty net to send the United fans wild.
Paul McGinn picked up a booking for a late tackle on Spittal on 15 minutes before Tankulic hit the United wall with a freekick from just outside the box.
Ciftci found Erksine with a neat pass on 24 minutes but just as the former Partick Thistle player looked like he would run through the middle of the Dark Blues’ defence he was taken out by Konrad, with the defender booked for the foul.
Four minutes later, Cierzniak kept United ahead with a fine stop from a Stephen McGinn shot, even staying alert to pick the ball out of the net after it spun up from the initial save.
That left the door open for the hosts to double their lead on 31 minutes.
Ciftci got a forward pass from Robbie Muirhead that saw him go toe to toe with Konrad inside the box. The Dundee defender’s challenge once again was too heavy and down went the Turk.
Referee Bobby Madden pointed to the spot and up stepped Ciftci to roll the ball into the keeper’s bottom left-hand corner to make it 2-0.
The Dundee fans were claiming for a spotkick of their own when a Sean Dillon clearance hit teammate McGowan but ball seemed to strike chest rather than arm.
The Dens men made a half-time switch, with Konrad going off and Gadzhalov coming into central defence.
That didn’t help the visitors, though, as they fell three behind on 50 minutes.
A great slide-rule pass from John Rankin did the damage this time. The backline was cut right open and on raced Spittal to clip the ball past Letheren.
From a Dundee perspective it was a terrible goal to concede but it was a cool finish from Spittal, who drew the keeper out before picking his spot from 15 yards.
On the hour mark, Ciftci sent a half volley over the Dundee bar from 30 yards then Gary Harkins came on for the visitors.
James McPake became the third Dark Blues man to be booked when he was late on Ciftci on 63 minutes then both sides made subsitutions, with Aidan Connolly replacing Muirhead for United and Dundee replacing Stephen McGinn with Craig Wighton.
McGowan crashed a header off the Dark Blues’ bar on 73 minutes then sub Wighton could only get his toes on to a cross when right in front of the opposition goal.
A great piece of football from United’s John Souttar saw him stroll forward, play a one-two with Connolly then try to beat Letheren with a back-heel.
McGowan volleyed wide after some showboating from Ciftci out right ended with the Turk crossing into the box.
Greg Stewart curled a freekick wide for the visitors four minutes from time then all hell broke out in front of the dugouts, with Jarek Fojut and Jim McAlister going head to head. Both men were booked, as was Paul Dixon for a later foul.
United gave keeper Cierzniak his place in the spotlight in the closing seconds of his final game for the club as he came off to loud applause and was replaced by Michal Szromnik.
Dundee United: Cierzniak (Szromnik 90), Dillon, Dixon, Souttar, Fojut, Ciftci, Rankin, Muirhead (Connolly 67), McGowan, Erskine, Spittal (Coote 75) . Subs not used: Telfer, Butcher, Smith, Anier.
Dundee: Letheren, Irvine, P. McGinn, McPake, Konrad (Gadzhalov 46), Ferry (Harkins 60), S. McGinn (Wighton 67), McGowan, McAlister, Stewart, Tankulic. Subs not used: Brodie, Colquhoun, Black.
Referee: Bobby Madden.