CARL Tremarco, the Inverness Caledonian Thistle captain, can offer younger team-mates wise counsel on how to embrace the Hampden Park experience without becoming overwhelmed. Much of what he says will have echoes of ‘do as I say, not as I do’, drawn from the emotional extremes of a thoroughly chaotic 15 minutes of his life.

The Liverpudlian’s last visit to the national stadium brought a winners’ medal against Falkirk in the 2015 final, with Tremarco one of only two survivors from the 14 who secured the trophy under John Hughes.

His red card for a 75th minute act of folly in taking out Blair Alston in a last-man foul plays vividly in the memory-banks.

“I’m not going to lie, the memories of 2015 have been flooding back this week,” Tremarco, the 33-year-old of six years’ club service, said. “You see a lot more clips and memories of playing on social media. It has been nice to look back on.”

‘Nice’ is not the word that might have been used had James Vincent not bailed Tremarco out with the winning goal.

Four minutes later, the Bairns equalised through Peter Grant and looked certainties to go on and win it.

“I was sick,” Tremarco recalled. “I hadn’t played a minute of the earlier rounds of the cup. I was lucky to get a place in the team, with David Raven injured. I thought ‘I’ve lost it for the lads,’ after all their hard work. I thought I’d messed it all up.

“I walked into the dressing room and it was a lonely place. A few tears were shed and I think it was Gary Warren or Richie Foran came in to console me – I can’t remember because I had my head in my shirt.

“I just about composed myself and then the lads only went and scored – and it set off the tears again. There was a telly in the changing room and I could see everything that was happening. I went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs when James Vincent popped up and scored the winner.

“If there had been a camera in the changing room, my reaction would have been funny to see. It was quite a couple of nights after that.”

Tremarco observed from the sidelines as Inverness beat Celtic in the 2015 semi-final to reach, but was part of the last four victory against Hearts that took them to through to the 2014 League Cup final defeat to Aberdeen.

“We had rode our luck a little bit against Celtic in the semi-final with Josh Meekings’ handball but, other than that, it was a fully deserved victory on performance. Then we went on to win it. We had quite a team, to be fair,” Tremarco stressed.

“I know from those experiences – and maybe I can try to help the boys out here – it is important to control your emotions, take it all in and keep calm. Going into the Celtic game, they had all the pressure which will be like Saturday. Hearts are expected to win.

“The final against Falkirk was different as we were expected to win, which made it a tougher game. Obviously, my sending off didn’t help, but if you look back on the second half, they were all over us anyway before the red card.

“These games don’t come around too often and I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in a few. I’ve also been involved in some not so pleasant times with the club, so we need to savour this as much as we can. Since relegation, slowly but surely, we’ve started to claw our way back. Whether we can get back to the heights that surrounded that Scottish Cup-winning season in the Premier League, remains to be seen, but we’re definitely on the right path.

“We look no further than Saturday. Just leave everything out there and try to get a result, then see where it takes us.”

Tremarco feels the greatest pressure is on Hearts as clear favourites from a league above, but feels it is too simplistic to suggest there is nothing weighing on Highland shoulders.

“Pressure, nerves – it will be the same for any player. Anyone who says they don’t get nervous is lying. You need a bit of nerves to keep you on edge and bring that fear of losing,” he said. “Then again, you can’t draw into your shell – you have to control those nerves and rise above them, stay cool and calm. You can’t let the game pass you by. As players, we all have to try to influence it in some way. Don’t hope one of your mates is going to pull you out. Be the one to make a difference. Be the hero. Be the one to sacrifice everything.

“That’s all we can do. If we come away from it and it hasn’t worked out, at least you know you’ve given everything.”