ROSS County had their day in the sun and should be proud of reaching the 2010 Active Nation Scottish Cup final.
More than 20,000 supporters turned out in force to back the Dingwall side, but in the end, Dundee United had too much class and three second half goals made the difference.
The first 45 minutes were largely low key and County would just have been thrilled to have gone in at 0-0 for the half-time team talk.
There was a scare for the Highlanders against their very impressive opponents after 11 minutes when Danny Swanson took a tumble in the box, but referee Dougie McDonald waved away the appeals.
The whistler whipped out a yellow card 10 minutes later when Staggies' Gary Miller went right through David Goodwillie, putting him on a tightrope for the rest of the game.
The tense affair was almost brought to life when Terrors' Danny Swanson went on a searing run, but that was matched by a magnificent challenge from defender Alex Keddie.
United were upping the ante and Prince Bauben tested goalkeeper Michael McGovern with the first shot on target.
Moments later, it was Keddie to the rescue again as he showed controlled calmness to take the ball clear of David Woodwillie as the forward prepared to pull the trigger.
McGovern then had to be alert to grasp a hold of a header from Jon Daly, who found space 10 yards out.
County manager Derek Adams pushed Michael Gardyne further forward at the start of the second half and, on 52 minutes, replaced Steven Craig with birthday boy Paul Lawson.
However, United still looked the more likely to net first and Danny Swanson flashes a header wide as he connected with a cross from Bauben.
The opener came on 61 minutes when Goodwillie collected a headed clearance from McGovern who raced out to assist his under-pressure defenders.
The attacker then, with no shortage of skill, lobbed the ball over the keeper's head and into the net, despite Keddie almost getting a boot to the ball on the goal-line.
County had their best spell of the final after this, with a few swift runs taking them in and around the box, but United held firm.
With 15 minutes to go, the Stag party was subdued as Dundee United doubled their lead when Craig Conway scored a terrific second with a searing run in from the left side and a calm finish beyond McGovern.
The 28,000 fans from Tayside began to celebrate and no-one inside Hampden expected a comeback.
A couple of times, though, County found their way inside the United penalty box, but weak efforts and steady defending from their opponents kept them at bay.
The icing on the cake for the Tannadice side arrived with four minutes left when man-of-the-match Conway fired a low volley into the bottom corner.
When the final whistle sounded, there were tears from County fans and players, but the overwhelming majority stayed to applaud their heroes.
Credit also to the United fans who cheered every County player as they went up to collect their medals.
The Victoria Park board will sit down in the coming week to speak to their ambitious boss Adams, and plot their way forward for next season.
One would imagine topping the agenda is ensuring Adams will be the man in charge when the new season kicks off in August, as he continues to be linked to jobs elsewhere, including the vacancy at SPL club St Mirren.
Dundee United: Pernis, Dillon, Webster (captain), Conway, Daly, Swanson (Scott Robertson 74), Bauben, Gomis, Kenneth, Kovacevic (Watson 83), Goodwillie (David Robertson 78). Subs not used: Banks (GK), Cadamerteri.
Ross County: McGovern, Miller, Morrison, Scott (Wood 79), Boyd, Keddie, Gardyne (Di Giacomo 77), Barrowman, Craig (Lawson 52), Brittain (captain), Vigurs. Subs not used: Malin (GK), Kettlewell.
Referee: Dougie McDonald.