There was no hiding place for Derby County’s players, dutifully applauding their Spygate adversaries Leeds United, the Premier League-bound champions whose swagger exposed their enjoyment of the ceremony.
And so they should revel in their success. Not content with their XI starters bouncing through the guard of honour, Leeds’ substitutes and squad players duly arrived like a flash mob and prolonged the opposition torment.
Derby teenager Louie Sibley could hardly have clapped any slower with his hands tied behind his back. Home skipper Wayne Rooney was a little more respectful, even if his relative enthusiasm for the task mirrored the apathy of the first half that was to follow.
An empty Pride Park didn’t stop Leeds celebrating their title win at the final whistle
Patrick Bamford celebrates at the final whistle after Leeds had defeated Derby 3-1
Jamie Shackleton celebrates after scoring the second goal for Leeds at Derby on Sunday
Shackleton was played through and calmly finished past keeper Kelle Roos on 75 minutes
But Derby’s lead was short lived as Pablo Hernandez equalised for Leeds moments later
Hernandez found the net from the edge of the Derby box after the ball broke back to him
Matt Clarke put through his own net for Leeds’ third goal to seal their victory late on
Clarke (foreground) reacts with dismay after gifting Leeds their third goal on Sunday
At least the second half produced a performance worthy of the league’s outstanding side, Leeds coming from behind to claim victory thanks to goals from veteran Pablo Hernandez and rookie Jamie Shackleton.
But of all the grounds, other than their Elland Road home, this is where Leeds would have chosen to emerge for the first time following their confirmation as Championship winners, ending their 16-year hiatus from the top-flight.
The club’s hierarchy have long since wanted to engender the old spirit of ‘Dirty Leeds’, when their great side of the Seventies would do battle with the likes of Derby.
That longstanding feud was re-ignited last year when Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa dispatched an employee to spy on a Derby training session.
And how the Rams milked their subsequent defeat of Leeds in the play-off semi-final, only to then miss out on promotion.
Derby’s players celebrate with Chris Martin (left) after he scored their opener at Pride Park
Derby’s players applaud Leeds onto the field in a guard of honour after they won the league
There was a lengthy delay in the first-half when Gaetano Berardi was forced off injured
Ezgjan Alioski of Leeds (left) challenges Derby’s Jayden Bogle for the ball in the first-half
Derby’s Wayne Rooney holds off Pascal Struijk as they fight for the ball in midfield
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa studies the action from his familiar crouching position
Derby County (4-2-3-1): Roos; Bogle, Davies, Clarke, Forsyth (Buchanan 65); Rooney (c), Bird (Marriott 82); Waghorn, Sibley (Shinnie 66), Lawrence (Knight 7); Martin
Substitutes not used: Roos (GK); Jozefzoon, Evans, Lowe, Whittaker
Manager: Phillip Cocu
Scorer: Martin 54
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Casilla; Dallas, White, Berardi (Ayling 33), Douglas; Struijk; Poveda (Harrison 77), Shackleton, Hernandez, Alioski; Roberts (Bamford 82)
Substitutes not used: Miazek (GK); Cooper, Casey, Davis, Klich, Bogusz
Scorers: Hernandez 56; Shackleton 76; Clarke own goal 84
Manager: Marcelo Bielsa
Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)
Leeds’ social-media operators had clearly been copied in on the memo from above about not caring who they offend, at least judging by the ‘Premier League vs Championship’ post and the video of Pride Park through a pair of binoculars.
There was, though, a bottle of champagne waiting for the champions upon their arrival, a gift from Derby owner Mel Morris.
Not that their players would have had much of an appetite for alcohol in light of their boozy celebrations following promotion on Friday night. Perhaps that was why Bielsa made seven changes.
That showed during a leggy opening period in which both sides created little. It had the feel of a fixture being fulfilled.
Bielsa, though, is not one to go through the motions and a half-time team-talk in the stadium concourse lifted the energy and application of his side.
They were motivated still further when Derby took the lead against the run of play through Chris Martin’s close-range finish on 54 minutes.
That advantage lasted less than two minutes and Hernandez showed his class with a measured steer into the bottom corner from 20 yards. How valuable the 35-year-old could prove as an impact sub next season.
But it was a player at the other end of his career, 20-year-old hometown boy Shackleton, who fired them in front with his first goal for the club on 75 minutes, a confident sweep after being played in by Tyler Roberts.
The scoring was complete when Derby defender Matt Clarke comically toed into his own net while attempting a hooked clearance perhaps beyond his skillset.
In truth, their greater embarrassment had occurred some time earlier, before a ball had even been kicked.
Derby’s Louie Sibley (left) and Pascal Struijk of Leeds compete for possession early on
Wayne Rooney checks on Tom Lawrence as he receives treatment after a challenge