The SNP leader quoted bar room poet George Robertson, the brother of Hearts striker John Robertson, who serenaded MSPs during a recent night out at Edinburgh's Radical Road pub.
Mr Robertson wrote a poem for them on a menu saying: "Eat well my honest, trusty friends/In 2014 the nonsense ends."
To applause from activists at Perth Concert Hall, the First Minister added: "Delegates, in 2014 the nonsense ends."
His remarks came at the start of the four-day gathering which was overshadowed by a new Ipsos/Mori poll which showed that Scots are increasingly turning their backs on independence.
The survey of 1000 Scots was the first to be published since Monday's historic signing of the referendum agreement between Mr Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron.
It showed that 58% of people questioned were opposed to Scotland leaving the UK, 30% would vote yes to independence while 12% were undecided.
The findings, showing the scale of the challenge facing the Nationalists, was in line with a TNS BRMB poll revealed in The Herald a fortnight ago and suggested support for the Union was hardening.
The 58% in favour of remaining in the UK was three points higher than in the summer and up eight compared with the start of the year.
Disregarding the polls, Mr Salmond said the Edinburgh Agreement, which allows for a legally watertight referendum, would pave the way for independence.
He said: "We are now closer to our goal of Scottish independence than not just in the 80-year history of the SNP but in the last 300 years.
"That's what awaits the people of Scotland in two years time."
Mr Salmond cited figures showing that in 2010/11 Scotland contributed 9.6% of UK tax but benefited from 9.3% of public spending, saying it was a statistic his opponents feared.
He also pointed out statistics showing Scotland's deficit, relative to GDP, was smaller than the rest of the UK's and argued that would free up spending worth £1000 per household for vital services.
The claim is strongly disputed by the pro-UK Better Together campaign.
In a fierce attack on Scottish Labour, he said leader Johann Lamont's move to review the fairness and affordability of popular Scottish Government giveaways, including free prescriptions and free university tuition, would increase support for independence.
He said: "The Labour Party says Scotland is a something for nothing culture.
"And as they move on to Tory ground, the Tories are ever more extreme."
The message will be repeated by a string of Cabinet ministers, including the First Minister in his keynote address tomorrow before the conference closes on Sunday.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added: "Game on. This will be the campaign of our lives."
In his speech, Mr Salmond made a coded plea for delegates to back controversial plans proposed by the party leadership to ditch opposition to an independent Scotland joining Nato.
He said: "I trust this conference to act in the best interests of achieving independence."
However, Mr Salmond also called for the potentially divisive debate to be conducted in a comradely manner.
Meanwhile, Blair Jenkins, leader of the Yes Scotland campaign, will tell the conference tomorrow that 2014 will be the "year of Yes".
He will highlight the symbolism of basing the campaign in offices in Glasgow's Hope Street.
He will add: "By the same token, I have to assume that the No campaign is even now looking around Scotland for Pessimism Place."
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