They came to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

It may have been Alex Salmond's 215th and final First Minister's Questions, but the opposition were in no mood to give him an easy ride.

Holyrood much prefers vengeance to valedictions.

So there was a spot of knock-about for form's sake, but not much, certainly not enough for the FM, who looked like he'd heard there would be a 21-gun salute and a flypast, then realised too late he was the only one in a paper hat.

Nevertheless, he was determined to enjoy himself - at the others' expense if necessary.

Labour's Jackie Baillie began with a parlour game: "Can I ask the FM, If he could describe himself in just one word, what would that be?"

Mr Salmond thought for a moment.

"No," he deadpanned. "One word seems hardly adequate to that task."

Ms Baillie returned the joke.

"As ever, the First Minister is in denial," she said.

"Presiding officer, there are many words I could have used to describe the First Minister -" Tricia Marwick hovered her finger over the bleep button - "humble, sensitive, modest, meek, perhaps even bashful.

"But do you know, it's interesting he didn't use the word proud.

"Because if I were him I wouldn't be entirely proud of this Government's record either.

"Teacher numbers down, college places down, NHS bed numbers down, waiting lists up."

Mr Salmond sighed.

"Well, if there's a mood to miss, Jackie Baillie has an unerring ability to miss it."

With SNP MSPs braying over her, Ms Baillie decided to play her top trump - the Big No.

"He lost by 400,000 votes," she shouted.

"So he's going and the person who actually ran the Yes campaign, Nicola Sturgeon, gets the keys to Bute House. Isn't it therefore the case that changing the First Minister will actually make very little difference?"

The Great Chortler started snuffling like an asthmatic hog, indicating indecent pleasure at one of his own jokes.

"I don't think talking about changing leaders is Labour's strongest suit!" he exploded.

"All in all, I think I would rather stand here as First Minister, albeit departing, than the 10th leader or caretaker leader who has faced me over this despatch box."

There is no despatch box at Holyrood, just a sort of Ikea-ish fliptop desk.

Despatch boxes, like Mr Salmond's future, belong in the Commons.

After Ms Baillie offered him a final word - a bizarrely jolly "Cheerio!" - Mr Salmond offered her future leader some advice.

"People in Scotland no longer know what the Labour party stands for," he told her.

"But they do know who they stood with in the referendum campaign. And any political party in alliance with the Tory party is destined for destruction in Scotland."

Hearing her cue, Ruth Davidson stood up.

The Tory leader dispensed with banter and piled into the FM using a government report card showing only two of 11 key targets improving, while those on GDP, productivity, and health life expectancy were worsening.

"Can I ask the First Minister, is this really a record worthy of so much self-satisfaction?"

Disconcerted by the idea of self-satisfaction as a bad thing, Mr Salmond prattled something about indices up long-term, and Scotland only looking relatively bad because Westminster had monkeyed with its stats, before going for the throat.

Despite the Scottish Conservatives' dire poll ratings, he said Ms Davidson had an" almost monumental political triumph" to her credit.

"She's destroyed the fortunes of the other political parties in this parliament.

"She destroyed the future of the Liberal Party by going into coalition with them at Westminster, and she destroyed the fortunes of the Labour party by the Better Together alliance.

"In that respect, on the criteria of destroying other opposition political parties, Ruth Davidson is undoubtedly the most brilliant political leader in the history of the Scottish parliament."

Even she had to laugh.

After that it was back to the same old same old - shipbuilding, ferry services, fishing talks, legal aid, the Barnett formula, and, for a spot of levity, underground coal gasification.

As parliamentary business reasserted itself, the earlier light atmosphere disappeared.

But no FMQs is complete without Tory picador Murdo Fraser taunting the raging bull, and so the final question was his.

Would the FM advise his successor to rethink his "nonsense policy" on renewable energy?

Mr Salmond likes Mr Fraser. For target practice.

"Once upon a time Murdo Fraser was in the vanguard of Scottish Conservative thinking," he said, "if that's not a contradiction in terms."

Fittingly, Mr Salmond's last word was the one which has been on the tip of his tongue these past seven years, his rock, his refuge, his partner in a life of political S&M games.

Not Holyrood, not independence, not Yes.

It was, of course, "Westminster".

And then, like the Cheshire Cat, he vanished from the chamber, disappearing into a mob of backslapping ministers, until only a ghostly echo of that insufferable chortle remained.

We shall never see his like again - until the general election.