At least this latest shoot-out did not have the same significance as last season’s play-off against St Mirren, but Dundee United were made to pay the penalty yet again as Hearts scooped the Betfred Cup bonus point at Tynecastle.

The Tangerines were at least better than in Paisley in May, when they failed to convert a single spot-kick. However, they missed out on the opportunity to double their single point as Hearts showed them how to do it with a 100 per cent success rate.

Nicky Clark was the villain on this occasion, sending his effort too close to Zdenek Zlamal before former United defender John Souttar netted the decisive penalty for the Tynecastle outfit.

If the penalties were a rerun of last seasons, so was the fact that Lawrence Shankland found his name onto the score-sheet with the opening goal. There were question marks over why the 23-year-old ended up at Tannadice when a host of suitors were reportedly chasing his services this summer, but he showed he could prove a superb servant for the Tangerines just eight minutes in against top opposition.

“Whenever you come to a new club you’re always wanting to get that first goal,” commented United manager Robbie Neilson. “To do it here, against two international centre-halves, shows the quality he’s got. We just need to get a bit more service to him, but I think we’ll do that in the league because we’re not coming up against the same quality as we did here.”

Had Hearts won May’s Scottish Cup final against Celtic, they would have been in European and not domestic action this week, and they could have hoped for an easier opponent to break themselves back into the new campaign. It will certainly have been a memorable 90 minutes for Andrew Irving, with the 19-year-old notching his first goal for the club before being red-carded six minutes from time for a hand ball at the edge of his own box.

“I’m not going to complain about the red card,” said Hearts manager Craig Levein. “One of the criticisms I have of him [Andy] at times is he doesn’t do the leg work and chase back. Unfortunately for him, on this occasion, he did it properly and slipped and landed on the ball. I haven’t seen it again but I believe he handled it and that’s why he got sent-off.

“It sounds silly but I’m pleased he did the first part right but the second part wasn’t in the plan. I don’t think it will take the shine off his performance. I think he’ll be disappointed he got sent-off but he did enough in the game, for me, to feel he’ll be a useful addition to the group this season.”

Rain lashed down as the teams emerged from Hearts’ new dressing rooms inside the Tynecastle main stand and the action matched the weather, with no let-up in the downpour throughout an engrossing 90 minutes.

Play swung from one end to the other and when United broke at pace in the ninth minute they got the rewards they were seeking. Sam Stanton, the former Hibernian midfielder, squeezed his way into the area before chipping a delicious cross that Shankland nodded beyond Zdenek Zlamal.

The hosts wasted no time in hitting back and they could have been level three times within just five minutes of the opener. Jamie Walker, given a hero’s welcome on his return to the club, was heavily involved, flicking through for fellow summer signing Conor Washington, but the Northern Ireland striker dragged his effort across goal and wide of the far upright. Then, after Sean Clare had arrowed his shot too straight from the edge of the box, Walker should really have brought the Jambos level but drove into the body of Benjamin Siegrist.

When Irving lashed a left-foot volley into the bottom corner just before half-time, it seemed like Hearts’ luck in front of goal had turned but they could not make their dominance pay after the break and had to rely on a perfect strike rate in the penalty shoot-out to earn prominence in the group.

“I think we should have won in 90 minutes,” added Levein. “I said to the players after the game I was quite happy with their performance. Experience tells me we’ll get better. This was our first competitive match and I felt the pressure was on us; United could come and enjoy themselves. But I was really pleased with a lot of aspects in the match.”

For United, there were encouraging signs if they can repeat their level of performance in the Championship this term.

“To come down here against a top-six, probably top-four team, I’m happy,” added Neilson. “Any team, probably outwith the Old Firm would take a point here, so I’m delighted with the players. I thought we proved to ourselves and everyone else we can play at this level.”