Brian Easton, the St Johnstone defender, was trying to sort out his future in a summer and needed somewhere to keep his fitness up. Hamilton were willing to let him come in and train with the squad; when a club that size receives £350,000 for your services, they are happy to give a little back.
Easton's move to Burnley, along with the sales of James McCarthy and James McArthur, was an endorsement of a youth policy which continues to reap rewards both in the first team and the coffers. He returns tonight with his latest club, but as with most footballers returning to former haunts, there is no room on the team coach for sentiment.
"They have always made me very welcome," Easton revealed. "I've always had a good relationship with the club and Alex Neil was my team captain when I was there. He has done a terrific job as I always thought he would. He had the mentality to go on and be a good manager. He knows his stuff about the game."
Easton, who was handed his first start for St Johnstone in the 2-1 weekend defeat at Celtic, admits the seeded Perth club could not have been given a tougher task than facing the SPFL Championship leaders away. "They will be wanting to take a top division scalp," he admitted. "When I was at Hamilton we beat Kilmarnock and Dundee United in the cup. But we will go there knowing how big a game it is and what an opportunity is there for us. The cup is up for grabs. Look at some of the winners in recent years. It makes you think that could be us."
Tommy Wright, the St Johnstone manager, confirmed he will make changes after Saturday's tough shift at Celtic Park and in-form striker Stevie May will come back into the side to face the team where he was on loan last term. "We have no injury worries," said Wright, who also revealed George Bowerman, the former Wallsall attacker, has signed with the club on a short-term deal.
"But this is an important game for us and we will freshen things up without weakening the team. [Bowerman signing] is a real bonus for us; it was a no-brainer."
Alex Neil, Hamilton's player-manager, said he was looking forward to game as his side were under no pressure to win. "Our priority is the league and whilst a cup run would be great I am not going to put pressure on us. We went to Kilmarnock in the last round with the approach of going out and doing our best and won through. Hopefully that approach will see us do the same again. It is a game we can enjoy and see where it takes us."