Celtic have now played two of last seasons European finalists, dismantling the Europa runners up at the weekend as a sort of practice run for last nights clash with European champions Real Madrid.
If you were to place Celtic on a sliding scale between the two, we’d be a damn sight closer to Real Madrid….
Results apart, that’s a hell of a place to be after just a year or so of this squad being together.
Last night , Celtic stormed into the game, treating their opponents the same way as they would any team they were up against, and for an hour or so, it nearly, very nearly worked.
Then, just as it was 42 years ago for a young Celtic team in Madrid, concentration withered as a result of a contentious, but largely ignored refereeing decision.
The back pass rule seemed, at least in the minds of several hooped players, to have been broken, and whilst even only momentarily, the spell was broken.
Just that tiniest bit of distraction at this level made a difference, and that concentration and discipline was broken enough for what is probably the best side around anywhere in the world capitalised.
And although Celtic kept trying, heads were down and fatigue began to overcome adrenaline and Madrid added a third, which was grossly unfair on players who had given their all and in no way deserved that outcome.
There have been a couple of games, notably against “rangers “, where the fast start hasn’t brought the goals, and last night was one of those.
We could go on and on about what might have been, had any of those chances between taken beofre the break, but that would probably add to the dark clouds which seem to have settled over what was an excellent performance from a side that started with only Joe Hart and Calum MacGregor having previously featured at this level.
They played with belief, passion and technical skill that will take them much further, and although we may have to resign ourselves to the fact we might not win the Champions League this year, it’s worth remembering where we were around a year ago in Scotland’s title race, and how that turned out.
Last night, on paper, looks like a disaster.
A start that will be difficult to recover from, a rude awakening to the big boys league.
Some of the more staunch commentators may even suggest that the season will fall apart now.
We’re on the road to somewhere, and it’s going to be some trip.