It is arguably also the most crucial local government poll since then.
Whoever leads Scotland's councils after Thursday will decide on education, social care, roads, leisure facilities, refuse collection and even how we socialise and buy alcohol for the next five years.
They will do so at time when budgets are facing an unprecedented squeeze, services are being cut, local authority jobs are being lost and the public sector is facing a wholesale overhaul.
Between now and 2017, how council services are delivered to millions will all change and those elected to the 1200-plus seats up for grabs on Thursday will be at the vanguard of a transformation in local government unseen for generations.
Not only will they be charged with how £15 billion is spent, more than one third of Scotland's budget, but they will also be in charge of a workforce approaching 300,000. Undoubtedly, May 3 will be more of a straw poll on the popularity of Labour and the SNP and a referendum on both the Edinburgh and London governments than a vote for local policies.
But the build-up has not panned out as many anticipated. Some believe the SNP has been dampening expectation, having been accused over-confidence.
Meanwhile, with Labour, which talked up its chances in 2011, it is a case of once bitten. For them it's either the turning point or a critical blow.
And if turn-out is low, in the face of an overhaul of the public sector, Thursday could also be the last local election of its kind and scale held in Scotland.
Here, The Herald's team of specialists explore just some of the diverse services at stake and the issues around them.
POLITICAL parties of all persuasions appear to be playing down debate over the future of education in the forthcoming local elections, according to one Scottish academic.
James Mitchell, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, believes no politician wants to draw too much attention to the likely impact of cuts on schools.
But he said education had the potential to dominate some council elections if councils were proposing the closure of schools, or have been through a painful closure process.
"The public do see education as very important, certainly those who have children at school, and I suspect it will be an issue that they want the parties to give a lead on," he said. "However, a crucial question for parties at the moment is the future financing of education and where the cuts that are coming will be directed.
"I suspect none of the parties will be willing to address these matters directly to local electorates because of the unpopularity of future choices they may have to make."
Mr Mitchell also warned over the dangers of politicians promising too much.
Aside from cuts, the only other national issue which may rear its head is the roll-out of the new school curriculum – the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) – which has caused uncertainty and concern among teachers.
Mr Mitchell believes that may be exploited, but does not believe it favours any one party. "It is an issue for parents and teachers, but is a tricky one for parties because it is difficult to see who could make the most capital out of it," he said.
The "arts tax", or more accurately, the new Public Entertainment Licence laws, was introduced this month and allowed councils to charge for cultural events – small-scale exhibitions, gigs and DIY shows. The furore around it showed that the arts community has a powerful voice. Very quickly, it became a political and cultural issue for councils across the country. And although the problem has gone away for now, the controversy will not go away, especially as the 32 councils in Scotland have all reacted to the licensing law in different ways. Also, the organisation of artists and artistic voices via Facebook, Twitter and an online petition proved effective. If any council, gets it "wrong" in the arts community's eyes again, similar pressure can be expected.
The change in the make-up of the council in Glasgow, with many new councillors coming in no matter what the administration, is making some in arts and culture nervous. Glasgow has slowly built itself up, with huge council support, to the position it is in now: considered one of the key cultural hubs in the UK if not Europe, home to multiple Turner Prize-winning artists, home to a thriving artistic and musical scene, and with some of the key civic arts collections in the country. Glasgow, not only economically, has benefited from this long commitment to art and artists, whether it be the Kelvingrove revamp, the investment in studio spaces in the Merchant City, or events such as Celtic Connections and GI.
More than £600 million has been spent on culture and related services in Scotland in the past financial year. There is also expected to be the creation of further arms-length trusts for municipal museums, libraries and similar facilities, inevitably leading to further debates over democratic accountability.
Bus service cuts, fare rises, soaring fuel prices and the dilapidated state of Scotland's roads have been lively doorstep topics ahead of Thursday's elections.
Some of these are issues over which councils have little, if any, influence but that hasn't prevented candidates making political capital from them.
The crisis engulfing Scotland's bus industry is being keenly felt. Despite a 6% drop in passenger numbers in 2010/11, buses are by far the most heavily-used form of public transport, more than five times more popular than trains. That's a lot of voters. In the first three months of 2012, they have seen record fare increases and cuts to services as operators respond to high fuel costs and high unemployment levels.
The situation has not been helped by cuts to subsidies.
The pothole vote is something councillors of all political persuasion need to watch out for, as a third of Scotland's road network is in an "unacceptable" condition, according to Audit Scotland. The maintenance backlog may take a generation to address, but council candidates will be judged on what they promise to do straight away.
Support for measures that encourage "active" travel, such as new cycle paths and walking routes, may feature and are likely to be exploited by the Greens who have argued that infrastructure investment has been skewed in favour of polluting road schemes. The crisis that has affected Edinburgh's tram project and seen costs nearly double to £1 billion, will weigh heavily on candidates in the capital as all parties trade accusations over who was to blame. The election could herald changes to transport authorities such as Strathclyde Partnership for Transport as the body faces not only a change in its political make-up but potential reform.