It is as though John McGlynn can’t quite comprehend it himself.

“Who would’ve believed this time last year Falkirk would be in a Scottish Cup semi-final with a realistic opportunity?” he says, smiling as heads shake in response. It is no exaggeration to state this was a club in disarray less than 12 months ago.

The 61-year-old surprised many by leaving Raith Rovers in the Championship to take over a team which had just recorded its worst-ever season. The anger which spewed forth from fans amid that dreadful campaign led to major mid-season boardroom upheaval, one where a beleaguered team eventually finished sixth in the third tier.

From the very top down, however, seeds of recovery have been sewn.

They may have watched rivals Dunfermline soar to the league title, but McGlynn has secured Falkirk a play-off place in their quest to return to the Championship, and on Saturday he will lead them out at Hampden against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Avoiding Celtic or Rangers in the last four has presented both these underdogs with a monumental opportunity, the kind McGlynn knows does not come around very often, even in his long career. He is hellbent on ensuring it is a chance grasped with both hands.

“We’re delighted that we’re coming to the end of April and we’ve got a Scottish Cup semi-final,” said the former Hearts manager. “We’re not playing Celtic, Rangers or Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts. We’re playing Inverness, who are a Championship team in really good form, but we do have a chance.

“We’ve got loads to play for. We have the play-offs and the opportunity to get to the Championship which is our bread and butter. That’s very, very important to us.

“We’d probably swap that for a cup final place – or certainly I would, I’m not so sure the board would with the money that comes with this! That’s a bit in jest.

“It’s massive, the opportunity to get to a Scottish Cup final. I’m 61 now but I’m still ambitious.

“Who knows when it will happen again? Stephen McGinn and others are coming to the end of their careers, possibly.

“Who knows when you’re going to get into a semi-final with a good opportunity to get to a final? You’ve really, really got to grasp this opportunity, take it with both hands and make sure you don’t leave anything on the pitch.”

For all their struggles, Falkirk remain an attractive proposition. McGlynn feels their place is in the upper echelons of the SPFL, and he has recruited a number of players who know what it’s like to be there, and will feel they still belong. His decision to leave Raith was questioned, but he says he and assistant Paul Smith both saw the potential for something special.

“That’s why Paul and myself have come here because we know the potential,” McGlynn insisted. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, it was going to be hard but to be honest, what we’ve done has happened maybe even quicker.  

"I know we haven’t won the league and we have to compliment Dunfermline on doing that, but when you speak to fans they’ll tell you how much they are proud the football club is heading in the right direction.

“That means a lot to us. The icing on the cake would be getting to a cup final and going up, we would go up with so much momentum that it would give us a chance.

“The football club is big enough to go up and up. I’m not getting carried away because we still have to do Saturday before we can go any further forward, but the potential is here to really kick on.

“We’ve got to believe we can do that.”

McGlynn believes he has a solid cup CV, one that includes two Challenge Cup successes with Raith and getting Hearts into a League Cup final, albeit he lost his job before the showpiece game was played. Taking a third-tier team all the way to the final Scottish Cup hurdle, though? That would be something special.

“That’s a motivation,” he said. “We’re very proud to be here as a League One team. Falkirk shouldn’t be here but they’ve been here for four years now. Let’s not kid ourselves on, it’s not been easy getting out of that league.

“The longer you’re there the more the budget depreciates and everything goes back. It’s a great achievement to get to Hampden in a semi and we’ll grasp the chance to get to a final.”