Scotland's fine 2-0 victory over Croatia had Steven Naismith marking his 25th cap with a smart goal, Robert Snodgrass wetting his newly-born daughter's head with the opener and the nation extending its 60-year run of always having at least one home win in a qualifying campaign.
The post-match atmosphere was heady with that uniquely Caledonian brew of relief, joy and renewed hope. Scotland said goodbye to the woes of Group A, where they have lost five matches, with a victory achieved by an irresistible mixture of unrelenting effort and sensible planning. They must say hello to a Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with these attributes and more but Gordon Strachan has much cause to look at last night's match with considerable satisfaction.
Playing a loose 4-4-2, with Snodgrass and Naismith to the fore, Scotland found a way to neutralise a team heading to the play-offs and caused considerable alarm at the other end of the park. The margin of victory was comfortable but it was only achieved through hard work and organisation and a determination that finally broke the Croats.
The first goal by Snodgrass typified the match. It came after the visitors seemed to have the upper hand, but Charlie Mulgrew tenaciously won possession and played the ball to the excellent Naismith who found the Celtic full-back with a slick pass. Mulgrew's cross was converted by the Norwich City striker at the back post.
The second came after Ikechi Anya, whose perseverance was his greatest trait last night, finally nicked a yard on Domagoj Vida and was brought down. Barry Bannan's penalty was saved by Stipe Pletikosa but Naismith, the man of the match, reacted the quickest to smash the ball into the net.
Scotland thus finished fourth in a group when the portents of a desperate winter suggested that the bottom place was a possible resting place. It would be absurd to suggest that all Scottish faults were banished last night - the defending can be as hairy as Big Foot - but Strachan has introduced a measure of organisation and his players have responded with a pleasing eagerness.
The initial authority enjoyed by Croatia saw crosses flash across goal, particularly from the left wing where Mulgrew was occasionally isolated in the first half, but Scotland survived mostly because of a lack of certainty, peculiarly in the shape of Mario Mandzukic. The Bayern Munich striker was culpable of dereliction of duty on at least two occasions.
The first was when he dithered when a Grant Hanley header found him at the back post. The second came when a cross, again from the left, found him free inside the box but he volleyed carelessly into the ground and the ball bounced past the post.
Croatia's efforts were prompted by Luka Modric, with Nikola Kalinic finding space between the Scottish defenders, but this craft and creativity never forced Allan McGregor to make a save. Both Croats diminished as the game progressed.
Scotland, instead, seemed to shrug off these overtures from Croatia to gain an indomitable strength. Their early attacking moves were stymied by a lack of composure under excellent Croatia pressing. For example, the high diagonal ball to Anya was surely not in Strachan's playbook.
But slowly, inexorably, a toehold was found in the match. Much of this slow ascent of Mount Croatia was achieved by the efforts of the front players. Naismith, consistently aggressive and as sharp as a Frankie Boyle putdown, caused an element of alarm in the visitors' defence and won just about every header while Snodgrass capped an enterprising display with his excellent downward header for the goal.
His emphatic nod of assent to the excellence of Mulgrew's cross could have been complemented by a second goal just minutes later when Brown cleverly played him in and Snodgrass shot powerfully across Pletikosa, only to see the keeper touch the ball on to the post.
The second half was marked with the goal that ensured victory. Scotland were initially placed under a Croatian pressure that was insistent but never quite enough to create a demand for tranquillisers among the reduced ranks of the Tartan Army.
In contrast, Scotland's threat on the break produced a penalty. Much of Anya's work on the left flank was rendered harmless by the pace and strength of his marker but the winger found a yard and Vida's lunge saw the referee point to the spot.
Bannan's strongly hit penalty was saved by Pletikosa but Naismith rushed in to score. The rest was slightly surreal. A campaign that has been scarred by failure, fatally wounded by mishaps, suddenly and belatedly has come to life. The match ended with the Tartan Army roaring as Scotland retained possession.
The Group A ends in failure of the glorious variety. It is the Scottish way. But last night there was hope. That, too, is a cause for celebration.