Neil Diamond rang out in the old town in Bucharest.
Sweet Caroline blared out of tinny speakers, echoed by choruses of throaty Scottish voices.
Good times never felt so good and to Caley Thistle at that point, who could have disagreed with that?
Two months after a momentous Scottish Cup triumph, they were now in European competition. A thought, if mooted when the club formed in 1994, that would have had you laughed out of town.
But they were not here due to their cup exploits. A remarkably consistent league season, albeit without the traditional powers of Rangers, Hearts and Hibernian, saw them finish third in the Premiership. An Eddie Ofere goal at Dens Park at the start of May confirmed a Europa League place.
The squad that summer lost two vital components. Graeme Shinnie, captain and talisman, had left for Aberdeen, his home-town club. Marley Watkins, a player transformed under John Hughes after being a little-known arrival from Hereford in 2013, was now with English League One side Barnsley.
The club needed to strengthen for the start of the 2015-16 campaign and Hughes needed it to happen faster than it did. In came Nat Wedderburn, a churning, workman-like midfielder who had grew up at the Pulisian school of football at Stoke.
With Ofere departing, there was a huge vacancy in the striking department. Dani Lopez was the man selected to fill the role; he enjoyed decent goalscoring spells with Atletico Madrid and Getafe’s B sides early in his career but had been a relative journeyman since, plodding around in the English third and fourth tiers.
The surprise late arrival was Owain Fon Williams, on the eve of the first leg against Astra Giurgiu. A Wales squad goalkeeper who had been freed by Tranmere, Fon Williams was thrust into the starting spot with Dean Brill still overcoming a serious knee injury.
That first Thursday night, in the shadow of the Kessock Bridge, was an evening where pride and sentiment would inevitably collide for those connected with the club. A team who had only existed for 21 years, who had spent much of its life fighting against the odds, was now playing under a European banner.
Inverness were not outplayed but they were outdone. A Constantin Budescu free-kick was on the money and too good for Fon Williams to keep out. Over 5,000 had turned out to witness this historical local event but left knowing, again, Caley Thistle would have to do it the hard way.
Brian Rice, Hughes’ trusted number two and long-time friend, took some of the pre-match media duties for the second leg. The carrot on offer for these Inverness players, some rescued from part-time football by previous boss Terry Butcher, was a trip to West Ham in the second qualifying round. All they had to do was find a way to win.
Tales of planned plane-hopping and cross-continent jaunts soon came to fruition. Some were taking flights straight to Romania, some were going via other European outposts. The destination was Bucharest, the capital and just over an hour away from the border city of Giurgiu.
The team and media travelled together, a chartered flight leaving Inverness on the Wednesday morning for Bucharest, via the Czech Republic for refuelling. A brief pre-game presser, conducted pitch-side at the now-demolished Stadionul Giulești, home of Rapid Bucharest, was done in conjunction with a late-evening training session out of the stifling heat.
With kick-off not until 9pm because of said humidity, the baking afternoon sun in Bucharest allowed blue-and-red clad parties to occupy bars and streets. More than 500 fans had made the trip, perhaps aware this was an occasion they may never get to see again.
I had overcooked it the night before. The heat and sight of more alcohol was doing me no favours and just back off a three-week holiday to the Far East, time was proving a difficult concept too. But there were Highland faces young and old, some raised on the Shinnie brothers and others who grew up on the terraces of Telford Street and Kingsmills Park, the grounds of the Caledonian and Inverness Thistle, the two clubs who formed the Caley Jags. It is a memory now that raises a smile.
The game itself was cagey in nature but again, Inverness would stand up to whatever blows Astra wanted to throw and counter-punched. Aaron Doran and Ryan Christie were livewires and represented their best chance of a goal. Doran headed straight at Silviu Lung, the Astra goalkeeper, and Christie’s ambitious curling effort was tipped over.
The lack of an attacking presence cost Inverness in the first leg and stuck out again on the banks of the Danube. Doran’s awkward attempt bounced into the goalkeeper’s arms and for all they were comfortable – Astra offered little bar a late shot from Budescu – the clinical touch was not there.
A half-fit Richie Foran, just back from a year-long lay-off, was thrown on late to try force extra-time but the goal did not come. The Caley Jags’ European challenge had wilted in the summer heat.
Reflecting on it now, Greg Tansey believes it was a huge missed opportunity. As a man whose grandfather Jimmy represented Everton and he grew up going to Goodison Park, faith that Caley Thistle could have contended with the Hammers was strong.
Had they overcome that first hurdle, who knows where they might have been? The spotlight would have been brighter on a potential England-v-Scotland tie and a chance for some players to pit themselves against Premier League opposition. Ross Draper had been a bailiff while Gary Warren and Danny Williams were teachers prior to Caley Thistle signing them. They could have been going up against Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll.
Astra’s ball kept on rolling. They beat West Ham 4-3 in the next round before losing out in the play-off round to Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. They went on to win the Romanian top flight that season.
As for Inverness? Less than two years on from the trip to Romania, they were instead plotting visits to Dumbarton and Brechin. Relegation from the Premiership and its after-effects are still being felt today and five years on, those sun-kissed days in the Bucharest old town seem far away.
But, when spring turned to summer five years ago, who’d have believe they’d come along.