HE came. He saw. He may even have rubbed a few people up the wrong way along the line. But ultimately, Scott Brown conquered.

Brown led his team out as captain for the last time at Celtic Park last night, playing his part in a 4-0 victory against St Johnstone which bore more than a passing resemblance to his testimonial match here back in 2018. The goals were scored by David Turnbull and Odsonne Edouard in two first-half minutes, with a third from Kristoffer Ajer and a late strike from Karamoko Dembele, but the night belonged to one man only.

After 14 years and 22 major honours, Celtic now need to find another number eight to replace a figure who swaggered into the club as a cocksure youngster from Hibernian, and left as the undisputed leader and figurehead of the club. Whatever your thoughts on Brown – and perhaps the ultimate backhanded compliment was the ire he drew from opposition supporters – his achievements at Celtic are unarguable. And the warm tributes paid to him by his teammates and coaches tell you that perhaps his on-field persona belied the warm personality that will make him so missed around these parts off the field too.

He will be back, of course, in the colours of Aberdeen, and he may well still have something to offer the Dons as a player going on the evidence of this performance. Maybe it was the adrenaline provided by the emotion of the occasion, but he rolled back the years to dominate the midfield for the hour he was on the pitch, producing a peach of a pass for Edouard’s goal into the bargain.

And he bounced up from an attempted scythe by St Johnstone forward Chris Kane so quickly that for a second, it looked as though he may reprise the famous jig he had produced some years back after a particularly meaty exchange against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. Perhaps out of respect for his future employers, he stopped just short.

Prior to the game, the Celtic players all wore tracksuits emblazoned with Brown’s name, though unlike supporters, they weren’t being asked to hand over 70 quid for the privilege of owning one.

To further underline the feeling that we were witnessing the end of an era at Celtic, outgoing chief executive Peter Lawwell then presented a silver salver to Brown. It was fitting that he should get his hands on some form of silverware at the end of his last campaign given the amount of it he has helped shovel into the trophy cabinet here over the years, it is just a shame for him and the club that it was commemorative in its nature.

So too was it a shame that the supporters weren’t inside the ground to give Brown the ovation he deserved. The club had opened up the stadium to allow fans to place banners on the seats during the day, and while some took advantage of that to place Palestinian flags in the ‘North Curve’ area which were subsequently removed, the tributes to Brown that remained gave an added poignancy to the evening.

As Brown enjoyed his last game at Celtic Park, young Adam Montgomery was given his debut for the club at left-back, and he too impressed on the night.

St Johnstone, for their part, would have been forgiven for having one eye on the Scottish Cup final, but that was the least of their worries as they arrived at Celtic Park in the midst of further Covid-19 issues.

Emergency loan keeper Bobby Zlamal was in goal despite being barely acquainted with his new teammates, with the entire first-team squad not having trained since their semi-final win over St Mirren on Sunday.

Still, against the odds, the Saints started well. Glenn Middleton turned Ajer inside out on the right and put him on his backside, before his cross was flicked on and just missed by the outstretched Kane as he tried to get a telling touch at back post.

Celtic were given a great opportunity to open the scoring though when James Brown was adjudged to have passed the ball back to Zlamal, who was penalised by referee Bobby Madden for picking it up. A decision that certainly did not make St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson feel good.

Ryan Christie touched the ball to Turnbull, who slammed it home low to Zlamal’s right from a yard inside the box.

Moments later, it was two. Brown showed that he can still contribute with his footballing ability, pinging a 40-yard diagonal ball into the path of Edouard. The forward produced a sumptuous touch to nutmeg Shaun Rooney before dinking beautifully over the advancing Zlamal and in.

At the other end, Vasilis Barkas was getting his chance due to his injury to Scott Bain, and what’s more, he made a very decent save. Another Celtic Park first on Brown’s last night at the old place.

Jonjoe Kenny’s woefully wayward header put Kane in, but with the Saints forward about to wheel away in celebration as he executed his chip well, Barkas stretched every sinew to get up and make the save. Credit where it’s due.

Just after the hour, it was time for Brown to take his leave. The smattering of applause hardly did him justice, but he was all smiles, and could rightly be pleased with his final outing here.

Celtic got a third with 10 minutes to go, Ajer’s shot deflecting off Charlie Gilmour and up and over the helpless Zlamal, before Dembele came off the bench to finish coolly under the keeper for his first ever senior goal.

A fitting farewell then for Celtic’s captain, leader, legend.