Caitlin Hayes has come on leaps and bounds this season, and the Celtic defener is not alone. Her pre-season training regime started by running around a local park in the wee hours doing her best to avoid stepping in dog mess, yet she hopes it will conclude with lifting the Women’s Scottish Cup at Hampden tomorrow afternoon.

Fran Alonso’s side were a matter of minutes away from a first-ever SWPL title before Lauren Davidson’s stoppage-time goal against Rangers on Sunday snatched the trophy away in the most dramatic of circumstances and for all the progress that has been made, Celtic have no silverware to show for their efforts this term.

That can all change at the national stadium when Hayes and Co take on Rangers, who are also smarting from losing out on the title to Glasgow City on that dramatic final day. The Celtic centre-half can at least console herself with the fact that she has contributed to the team’s cause with 13 goals this term – and is recognised as the paciest defender in the division – and Hayes puts that progress down to her somewhat unusual training regime.

“I eat less and train more! I have worked hard,” she explained. “I have a guy called Tim Tack who gets me up at 5am and that is what I do.

“We are out on a pitch with no lights and dodging the dog poo - there is not a thing that is glamorous about it. But he says that if I turn up to every session then I am the only one who can hold myself back.

“I do it every single day of summer. I allow myself a week off where I eat what I want and doing nothing and then that is it. Then I am up in the morning and doing that every day…and no alcohol either!

“I don’t feel like I ever get to a point where I am tired in games. Obviously I am tired when I am getting out of bed at 5am when I am dragging myself out. We call it ‘Scotland Yard’ and what you do is run the length of a field and do zig-zag crosses and lines of a Scottish flag.

“I think if I can get through that at 5am in the winter I can get through games, no matter how tough they are. A big part of the game is confidence and I have taken a lot of confidence from being fit and being able to help my team. A lot of girls in the Scottish game just need a little bit more confidence and then they would all be strutting about like me!

“You compare social media and you think ‘oh, I’ve not scored, I’m not doing great’ or ‘I got a yellow card’ or ‘my coach isn’t talking to me’. I think it is finding an ownership of putting it on yourself and if you can analysis your own game and your own performance then you don’t always need external verification to gain confidence from or to get you in a better place.

“I take ownership of what I know I need to do to give me confidence. I think a lot of people lack it and maybe see their worth through the amount of minutes they played when ultimately that is not your worth to a team. It is the badge on your shirt and if you are sitting with someone who hasn’t played as much, you are both still contributing to the badge on your shirt.”

Missing on the title was a painful experience for Hayes and her team-mates but tomorrow’s final offers a form of redemption. Winning the Scottish Cup would certainly be welcome, but the 27-year-old insists that securing qualification for the Champions League simply means more to her.

“We had a conversation, and I won’t share everyone’s opinion, but mine was that I would have picked Champions League football over a cup,” Hayes explained.

“I wouldn’t ever turn down a cup and you be assured that I will give blood, sweat and tears so that we win on Sunday but there were a few difference perspectives when it came to a chat about whether you would pick a cup or Champions League - it was divided to say the least.

“There is an element of the cup that could heal wounds from last Sunday to be able to have a celebration, so we will put everything into it.

“I feel like I have just come out of a whirlwind and I don’t feel that I am really out of it yet. One more big push is the mood around the camp and we can’t wait for it.”