Alex Pritchard, Jota and Andre Gray were on target to secure a 3-0 win over relegated Wigan while results elsewhere played right into the Bees’ hands.
Yet the Brentford boss is leaving at the end of the campaign with owner Matthew Benham opting to change the management structure – a decision which appears even more baffling now with Warburton potentially three matches from taking them into the Premier League.
Having kicked off in seventh place they needed a little help from their friends, and Reading – their neighbours from just along the M4 – obliged by beating Derby while former Brentford loanee Jordan Rhodes was on target as Blackburn sank Ipswich.
Therefore the Bees, denied automatic promotion from League One by Marcello Trotta’s penalty miss two seasons ago, were on the right end of events for a change to secure fifth place and a semi-final against Middlesbrough.
“I’m delighted for the players and supporters,” said Warburton. “We always said where can we be by May 2, and here we are in fifth. To play that way and for results to go our way is very pleasing.
“We spoke to players on June 25, the first day of pre-season training, and told them we had no doubt where we could go. And they’ve achieved it.”
Warburton had insisted his players would not be distracted by what was happening elsewhere, but that fell on deaf ears with Pritchard asking fans by the touchline for score updates.
“I was trying to ignore it, but there was a clue from about 11,000 people,” added Warburton.
“It could have come down to one goal, there are so many late goals in this division. But once we knew Derby were 3-0 down we could enjoy the last couple of minutes.”
Prichard settled the nerves with a 25th-minute free-kick and Spanish midfielder Jota slotted in the second just after the break.
Gray wrapped up the victory 10 minutes from time, and James Tarkoswski could even afford to miss a last-minute penalty which, unlike two years ago, did not matter.
For Wigan, League One beckons and manager Gary Caldwell admits he has work to do.
“It was frustrating, especially in the second half, we were not good enough in every department,” said the Scot.
“We knew they would come at us and we didn’t deal with it. I won’t accept performances like that. We have a long summer ahead of us to do something about it.
“We need people to come to the club who want to be at the club, and who want success. We will work very hard to get the right characters in and rebuild.”