You could forgive Carl Tremarco for thinking it is just not meant to be for him at Hampden Park.
Four years on from being sent off in Caley Thistle’s Scottish Cup victory over Falkirk, the stage was set for him to skipper the club to a second final against Hearts.
However, a first-half kick on the knee from Jambos’ midfielder Olly Lee, which left the resilient full-back prone on the Hampden Park turf, eventually curtailed his afternoon, despite his bravest efforts to soldier on.
Worrying glances were cast aplenty when Tremarco went down; the warrior spirit which embodies his regular performances dragging him to his feet again and pushing him through to half-time. That 15-minute interval ultimately proved the killer, with the swelling on his knee ballooning and forcing him out of the action before the hour mark.
Tremarco said: “It got worse as the game went on. I was always going to give it a go but when the goal went in I couldn’t really move. There was a free-kick into the box and I was done. It’s just not the place for me.
“The kick was right on the medial (ligament) and it was just one I couldn’t run off, as everything goes through your knees.”
Trudging off the field with only a goal in the game, Tremarco was powerless to help as the Championship side’s hopes of a fairytale return to the competition’s showpiece faded into the distance.
Casting an ever-critical eye over their Hampden Park wilting, Tremarco offered little sympathy to his own charges, with stage-fright rather than a big-fight mentality taking hold.
He added: “We didn’t really lay a glove on them. We probably weren’t brave enough on the ball. We were happy at 0-0 but not with how we were playing. We started the second half sloppy, they got the goal and were on top of us. We didn’t get the ball down and play and switch it – our full-backs were probably our spare men. We were always a bit eager to go direct to Jordan and it’s probably where we should have been braver.
“Hopefully we haven’t used up our luck in previous years. Joe’s free-kick hits the bar, Jamie McCart’s goal is onside. Jake’s cross ricochets to Uche and he’s put it away and the flicks off Charlie Trafford.
“Not much was said after the game. Everyone was disappointed in the way we lost the game. It’s frustrating as we didn’t play to our potential.”
The Caley Jags were very much the tournament’s surprise package, ascending to the latter stages very much under the radar. They had cleared the Championship’s top two, Ross County and Dundee United, from their path on the way to Mount Florida, with the latter likely to be in their way should they make the second round of the play-offs.
Vanquishing Morton at Cappielow tomorrow night would go a long way to banishing the sense of regret left on Glasgow’s south side, putting Inverness closer to sampling these sorts of occasion on a more regular basis.
Tremarco said: “We can’t let the Hearts game define our season. The cup run was a bonus but we need to put it to the back of our minds now. Win on Tuesday and that nearly puts us there. There’s some massive stuff still to play for and hopefully it ends in promotion.”