Dundee United had previously reached the Scottish Cup Final eight times, winning only one of them, while Ross County were making their first ever Scottish Cup final. Ross County join the list of lower division sides who have reached the final in the last five years, Gretna in 2006 and Queen of the South in 2008. Dundee United and Ross County had played each other only four times before, with United winning the last three. All of their encounters have been in the League Cup, Ross County won the first game at Victoria Park on 19 August 1998, 2–0 after extra time, their next encounter came almost exactly a year later on 18 August 1999 at Tannadice Park when United won 3–1. Eight years after their last encounter they meet again at Tannadice where United got a 2–1 win, they have played each other this season when United won 2–0 at Victoria Park.
Ross County entered in the third round, playing their first match against Third Division side Berwick Rangers. In rounds four and five, Ross County scored a total of thirteen goals, first against non-league Inverurie Loco Works, then facing Second Division side Stirling Albion. Their quarter-final match was their first against an SPL side, and they took Hibernian to a replay, which they won with a goal in the 90th minute. In their semi-final at Hampden, they faced Celtic and defeated them 2–0, booking their first appearance in the final of the Scottish Cup.
As a member of the SPL, Dundee United did not enter till the fourth round. Their fourth round game was against First Division side Partick Thistle and fifth round game was against SPL side St. Johnstone. In the quarter-final, United took the defending champions Rangers to a replay at Tannadice in which they won 1–0. In the semi-final they faced another First Division team in Raith Rovers, who they beat 2–0.
Dundee United sold more than 20,000 tickets for the match up to the end of April and have asked the Scottish Football Association for another 5,000 tickets. Ross County president Roy McGregor expects 20,000 supporters to attend the final, after they sold the initial allocation of 11,000 tickets in just three days. Another batch of 5,000 was received from the SFA and all expect to sell out.
The winner automatically qualifies for the play-off round of the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League. Because Dundee United had finished in a Europa League spot in the SPL, Ross County would only have qualified had they won the final. Since Dundee United won, the remaining Europa League spot was allocated to Motherwell, who finished fifth in the SPL.
It was confirmed on 11 April 2010, that Dundee United's Paul Dixon would miss the final after he sustained a broken foot in the semi-final win over Raith Rovers. Dundee United's Darren Dods also missed the final after being ruled out with a cartilage injury.
Dundee United manager Peter Houston let former captain Lee Wilkie lead the team out for final. The defender was forced to retire at the age of 29 earlier in the season after being plagued by knee problems.
On 5 May 2010, Ross County announced that they had abandoned plans for a training camp in Spain because of the latest volcanic ash cloud. They were due to fly from Glasgow but, with airport closures and the expected traveller backlog, the club decided to stay in Scotland and prepare for the final.