The rain was hammering down but Chris Coleman barely noticed it. All the emotion and frustration that the Wales manager had been bottling up inside came to the surface. The celebration when Gareth Bale's wonderful strike arched over the head of Allan McGregor in the 89th minute was not quite up to José Mourinho's standards but the fist-pumping along the touchline said it all.
It was a breathtaking climax to a pulsating evening. With a little under 10 minutes remaining Coleman was on the brink, staring a fifth successive defeat in the face and the prospect of a P45 arriving in the post. In the other dugout, Craig Levein, the Scotland manager, looked set to pick up the victory that would relieve the pressure on his own position.
But then Bale, the best player on the pitch by a distance, decided to re-write the script. Contentious penalties have been a feature of this fixture down the years and more often than not luck has been smiling on Scotland.
This time, however, fate conspired against them. Bale, who was at the centre of a diving storm last weekend, went down under what appeared to be minimal contact from Shaun Maloney and Florian Meyer, the German referee, pointed to the spot. Bale did the rest, confidently dispatching his kick before signing off with a glorious strike that left Levein and his players crestfallen.
For Coleman, this was vindication for the big decisions he made beforehand when he took the captaincy off Aaron Ramsey and tore up the manual that served Wales so well under the late Gary Speed. "It's better to fall on your own sword, isn't it?" Coleman said on the eve of the game. "You can try someone else's jacket on but if it doesn't fit, you can't keep wearing it. I'm more relaxed because now I'm doing things I want to do." Picking up his first win was a suitable reward.
There had been plenty of nostalgia in the build up. Joe Jordan was still trying to claim that he was not guilty of handball in the controversial incident that led to Scotland being given a penalty, rather than Wales awarded a free-kick, in the World Cup qualifier at Anfield in 1977. Eight years later, at Ninian Park, Cardiff's former home, Jock Stein, the legendary Scotland manager, collapsed and died. The plaque honouring Stein was later moved to the Cardiff City Stadium, where floral tributes were laid beforehand.
There was another touching moment before kick off, when the players lined up for the national anthems wearing picking ribbons as a tribute to April Jones, the missing five-year-old schoolgirl from Machynlleth, her family and those that have searched so tirelessly to find her. Applause reverberated around an arena that was so heavily populated with Scottish supporters that it must have felt more like a home game for Levein's players at times.
The Tartan army were certainly in full voice when James Morrison put them ahead with a goal that exposed the shortcomings in defence that undermined Coleman's side in Serbia last month. Allan McGregor's long punt upfield was superbly flicked on by Steven Fletcher, who outjumped Ashley Williams, and nobody picked up Morrison. Having gambled on Fletcher winning the ball, the West Bromwich midfielder had a clear sight of goal and beat Lewis Price with the minimum of fuss.
Coleman, arms folded on edge of his technical area, was left to ruefully reflect on what was a dreadful goal to concede as well as the poor miss at the other end that had preceded Morison's strike. The goal kick that led to the Scotland goal had come about after Bale, a constant threat on the right flank with his penetrative runs, delivered a wonderful centre that implored Steve Morison to head home. Unmarked and with the goal at his mercy, the Norwich City striker nodded wide from six yards.
It was an example, not that Coleman needed it, of the other key weakness that hinders this Wales side. Wales had scored only once in their previous five games and by the time the interval came this had the makings of being another of those nights when their supporters were left to bemoan the absence of a potent striker and a ruthless edge in front of goal. What they would do for an Ian Rush, Mark Hughes or John Hartson to lead the line and make the most of Bale's talent.
For long periods Coleman's demeanour never changed and neither did Wales' potency in front of goal as they huffed and puffed without success. Ramsey, who had volleyed over just before half-time, ran clear in the second half and salvation beckoned for Coleman until the midfielder pulled the trigger and made a hash of his attempt to dink the ball over McGregor. The game was slipping away from Wales at that point but Bale ensured there was a happy ending for his embattled manager.