Had things gone to plan, Jack Ross could have been the man leading Hearts out at Hampden against Hibs in tomorrow’s Scottish Cup semi-final showdown.
Instead, he’s going head-to-head with Robbie Neilson - the man who initially took him to Tynecastle and helped kick start his coaching career.
When Neilson was first promoted to the top job at Hearts five years ago, he was tasked with sourcing his own replacement for the Under 20s gig.
Having done some work with Ross while he was number two to for former Hibs captain Ian Murray at Dumbarton, Neilson whisked Ross away from The Rock and installed him as his successor.
At the time, Hearts director of football Craig Levein was set on establishing a conveyor belt of coaches that would ensure he simply promoted from within whenever the boss moved on, and the plan was that Ross would eventually succeed Neilson when the time came.
So often in football though, plans go out the window and Ross went on to forge his own path, achieving success with Alloa and St Mirren before getting his big break at Sunderland.
And now he does find himself in the capital hotseat - just not that one that was being kept warm for him.
“I was the one that brought him in in 2014,” said Neilson. “I did a bit of work with him when he was at Dumbarton and we were looking to bring someone in to take the 20s and he came in. We had a very successful period when he was here.
“It’s funny how football works out. He left here and did well and managed to get himself in at Hibs. From our perspective we have to go beat them now.”
Bizarrely, Ross has already knocked Neilson out of the 2019/20 Scottish Cup.
What seems like a lifetime ago, Hibs drew Dundee United in the fourth round back in January and they fought out a 2-2 draw at Tannadice before the Hibees eventually won the replay 4-2 at Easter Road.
To say things have changed since then however, is an understatement. “I’ve got a different team now!” said Neilson.
“Might be a different year as well!
“We know what they’ve got, they don’t change them up much, the personnel. Yes, they change shape now and again but we know the attributes they have got in their team and it is important we try and negate them and make sure we try and highlight the areas where we think we can cause them concern.”
Top scorer Kevin Nisbet will be the man Ross relies on to fire Hibs to the final, but he could have been another on the other side of the divide tomorrow had Neilson gotten his way.
He initially tried to tempt Nisbet to Tannadice in January before a last ditch effort to hijack Nisbet’s Hibs switch in the summer and make him a Jambo.
Nisbet couldn’t be swayed though, and now Neilson is out to prevent his two-time target making him green with envy.
“He’s a threat, definitely,” he admitted. “I think the two strikers have done very well in combining and they are an old fashioned strike-partnership. One comes short, one goes long, they have a good physicality and are good from crosses.
“Kevin is a player who was at Dunfermline when I was at United and we made enquiries about it and couldn’t quite get it done. However, I know his quality well and he’ll be one of Hibs’ biggest threats on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a test, but most games will be a test. It was a test in the last 15 minutes against Arbroath when they went eight up front and bombarded us! Every game has different challenges we’ll need to get through this season.
As for his own striking options, Neilson could spring a surprise and unleash Liam Boyce and in-form Craig Wighton.
He added: "It gives us options. I can change things within a match. Hibs are expected to play 3-5-2 so if we put two up front against them it gives them a different problem.
“Wighton has shown he can play up front with Boyce, his movement was really good.”