Oh Hampden, in the sun. When there are two teams going toe to toe in the Scottish Cup on a glorious day at the national stadium, is there anywhere else in the footballing world you would rather be?

Ok, the quality on show may not always be of the highest calibre, but that charge couldn’t be laid at this game. Aberdeen’s sensational early opener from Bojan Miovski that lit the blue touch paper on this captivating ding-dong was brilliantly crafted. As was Celtic’s second from the evergreen James Forrest, to give just two examples.

This was a proper contest. A thrilling spectacle. With redemption stories for the ages. And all played out in front of a stunning, buzzing backdrop in Mount Florida.

There was the unexpected shock opening as the underdogs drew first blood. The response from the wounded favourite. A controversial VAR check – of course there was – when Aberdeen were denied a penalty as Liam Scales’s handball was adjudged to have been outside of the area by the merest of margins.

There was the intrigue of a second period in which Celtic took control, and Aberdeen challenged them to break them down. There was a stunning impact from Forrest to nudge Celtic ahead, and the feeling that it was over. But then, there was the extraordinary late riposte from Aberdeen through substitute Ester Sokler to force extra time.

There was another brilliant contribution from Forrest as his defence-splitting pass in stoppage time at the end of the first period of extra time allowed Alistair Johnston to tee up Matt O’Riley to put Celtic ahead again.

But still, as punch drunk as they were, there was a response from the redoubtable Dons as they just kept picking themselves up off the canvas.

There was another VAR controversy as a foul earlier in the sequence of play got Cameron Carter-Vickers off the hook as he booted Junior Hoilett in the area. There was a remarkable miss by Sokler moments later. There was still more to come, and at the last, there was Angus MacDonald’s zero to hero moment.

It was the Aberdeen captain who had been culpable as his dawdling allowed Kyogo Furuhashi to rob him for Celtic’s first equaliser through Nicolas Kuhn. But it was he, of all people, who sneaked in at the back post – in a carbon copy of Sokler’s earlier equaliser – to haul Aberdeen level once more.

It was scarcely credible. It was incredible drama, with extraordinary twists in the tale. We in Scotland might like to talk our football down, but sometimes, there is just nothing really like it.

And so, to penalties. Could Joe Hart produce another incredible storyline by being the Celtic hero in one of the last appearances of his career? Could Kelle Roos even get through the shootout, after injuring himself as he got a hand to Paulo Bernardo’s penalty before it trickled into the net? It all just added to the suspense that hung around Hampden thicker than the usual pyro smoke that fogs the air.

Seven spot-kicks found the net before Ryan Duncan hit the post, and Hart stepped up to take the next one for Celtic because, well, that was just the most bonkers thing to do. Of course, he missed too, clattering the ball off the post.

There were four further successful conversions before poor Killian Phillips stepped up and his effort was saved by Hart, the Celtic keeper earning his own moment of redemption by doing what it is he is actually paid to do.

Ultimately then, it will be the Celtic fans who will be fortunate enough to return here in May to watch their team defend their trophy, but no matter who they face, they aren’t likely to get a stiffer test than this.

There were bodies in red sprawled, bereft, on the Hampden turf as Celtic lapped up the acclaim from their vast support, and they had given it their all. Which rather begs the question of where they have been all season.

Around 8500 Aberdeen supporters had made the trip down to Glasgow more in hope than expectation, with the number of Dons that didn’t bother also a statement about their assessment of their side’s chances.

Those remaining in the Granite City would have been kicking themselves for missing some brilliant moments, with that red slice of Hampden sent into hysterical celebration on three occasions.

From a Celtic point of view, they might ask the same question of Forrest, who contributed so much in getting them over the line.

Rodgers has called Forrest the best winger at the club only a few months ago, but even allowing due respect for his advancing years, he’s still only 32. He might not be able to start every week, but in games such as these, his quality and experience would surely have been a better bet than the flaky Yang Hyun-jun.

Still, he got there in the end, and thanks in part to Forrest, so too did Celtic. Eventually. Boy, did they have to work for it.