Petrov, whose acute leukaemia is now in remission, played the first 32 minutes or so on his return to Celtic Park before being given a second run-out late in the game.
He did not manage the goal normally afforded the protagonists at these affairs but that was secondary to the occasion as a clearly emotional Petrov took a lap of honour with his sons at full-time as 60,000 fans roared their support. "I want to thank you for standing by me through the hardest time of my life," he told the crowd. "You made today special for me, my family and all the players here."
The match itself was played at a pace that could be kindly described as leisurely and in a spirit that bordered on Corinthian. Not everyone got the memo, however, with Bobo Balde careering into the sort of wholehearted challenges that were the trademark of his Celtic career. One early rattle into the back of Robert Pires left the Frenchman checking both legs were still intact, while another challenge on Dimitar Berbatov drew a trademark scowl from the Fulham man.
Not even the surprise admission that he has been a bhoy since he was a boy prevented John Terry from getting booed throughout the game, presumably to the relief of Carlos Cuellar who, despite being a former Rangers player, seemed to avoid the catcalls. Terry almost scored the goal of the game, striking the base of the post with a shot from his own half.
The volume of booing was nothing compared to the ear-splitting shrieks that welcomed One Direction's Louis Tomlinson on to the pitch as a first-half substitute, the pop singer arriving just in time to prevent an army of prepubescent and teenage girls storming the dug-out to ask why manager Martin O'Neill had not put on their favourite yet. Tomlinson did not stay on for long, however, and Gabriel Agbonlahor may find a fatwa declared on him this morning for the bone-crunching tackle that brought a premature end to little Louis' afternoon, the singer pausing only long enough to be sick at the side of the pitch before hobbling up the tunnel.
Here was further proof that nostalgia never gets old. The returning heroes in the Celtic XI m anaged by O'Neill were all welcomed warmly back into the fold, none more so than Henrik Larsson, whose movement and touch might have alerted a few SPFL Premiership teams still looking for a striker. The Swede saw a lob just miss the target, scored a penalty, then had a second 'goal' ruled out early in the second half. The Petrov XI had the distinct advantage that many of their squad are still actively playing or not long retired.
Berbatov simply oozed class, scoring within 40 seconds, adding a second before the half was out, then completing a hat-trick in the second half. Against ageing and tiring Celtic legs, it almost seemed a bit cruel. Throw in Terry, Gareth Barry, Agbonlahor, Cuellar, and Martin Petrov, who also scored, and it was very much a case of men against much older men.
The old men, though, did all right. Rab Douglas saved comedian John Bishop's penalty, and Pierre van Hooijdonk and Warren Brown made it 4-3, before singer Nicky Byrne concluded the scoring at 5-3 with a low shot past Douglas.