The mere mention of Hampden evokes mixed emotions in Ash Taylor.

This weekend will be the Kilmarnock defender’s fifth visit to the national stadium, all of them across his two spells at Aberdeen. There have been good times, don’t get him wrong; a thrilling 3-2 semi-final victory over Hibs in 2017 surely sticks out.

But his trips to Mount Florida have too often had a Celtic-shaped shadow hanging heavy overhead. That Derek McInnes Dons side, League Cup winners in 2014 before Taylor arrived, was cruelly denied further silverware by Brendan Rodgers’ invincible juggernaut.

On Saturday, it is the Ange Postecoglou iteration Taylor and his team-mates must overcome for a place in the Viaplay Cup final - no less fearsome a prospect, but one the towering centre-back is relishing all the same.

“I have got some really good semi-final memories, but finals not so much,” Taylor admitted. “It’s just unfortunate we came up against a Brendan Rodgers Celtic side at the time.

“If we didn’t come up against them I think we’d have won a trophy or two at Aberdeen. But I have got good memories of Hampden, so hopefully I can replicate that this weekend.

“It’s a semi-final, it’s a cup game. Anything can happen in these games. You just need to stick to the plan perfectly and hopefully land a punch or two.

“I can pass off my experience and know-how of the big occasion. The most important thing in these games is keeping your concentration levels.

“I think it can help if you have been there before. During my time at Aberdeen we wanted to make getting to Hampden a habit.

“The more you go there the more comfortable you become. Celtic are there that often they treat it as home. And to be in that kind of environment before helps you not be phased by the occasion.”

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Taylor’s Aberdeen came so close to landing a knockout blow in the 2017 Scottish Cup Final. Dons fans will probably never forget the golden chance their side spurned in extra-time as crossed wires between Jonny Hayes and Kenny McLean let Celtic off the hook. Taylor certainly hasn’t.

“That’s the one that always burns,” he said. “I always speak about that game and the moment with Jonny Hayes and Kenny McLean, if we score that chance then we probably go on to win it. But Tom Rogic appeared last minute and did what he does and scored.”

In the here and now, Taylor is still seeing more of Celtic than most. Kilmarnock lost 2-0 at Parkhead on Premiership duty just a few days ago. The visitors stood firm for a period, only for the reigning champions to score with their first shot on target. By the end, they probably should have added several more.

It lays bare the arduous task teams face in trying to stop Postecoglou’s side. For 44 minutes, Killie will have felt as comfortable as it’s possible to be against them, only for a momentary lapse in concentration to prove costly.

The result was an improvement on the 5-0 chasing they took at Rugby Park back in August, but the margin for error forced upon Taylor and his defensive colleagues is so fine when the threat offered at the other end is so limited. It remains a tall order, but the defender says they have taken heart from their weekend efforts.

“It can be done and we showed that at the weekend,” he insisted. “But, there were a couple of split seconds they managed to get in.

“If you switch off for a split second then they will punish you. Hopefully, we can nullify that a little bit more this weekend and keep our concentration levels even higher.

“Your communication has to be on point all game, you have to talk to your teammates and make sure you’re always filling the gaps."

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Keeping tabs on Kyogo Furuhashi, as it does for most, proved especially challenging. Although Jota applied the final touch for Celtic’s first and Taylor himself turned into his own net for the second, it was the Japanese forward’s panic-inducing movement that led to both. Taylor describes tailing Kyogo as a high-stakes game of ‘cat and mouse’.

“It is his movement,” he said. “He is so sharp. It is trying to pick up on the little details.

“He often starts behind you, tries to draw you and then darts into space. It is like playing cat and mouse at times and you have to be switched on.”

The odds may be stacked against Taylor and Killie, but what player doesn’t allow himself to dream with silverware in touching distance? The Ayrshiremen sampled a taste of success in winning last season’s Championship title but, with more than his fair share of near misses, it’s a major trophy Taylor really craves.

“It would be lovely,” he said. We won the Championship last year and I want more of that. I was so close during my time at Aberdeen so it would be nice to get over the line.”