Five conclusions from a very promising Celtic campaign indeed.
Deila’s strong stance
As Celtic head for a potential first domestic treble since 2001, the remarkable nature of Ronny Deila’s first season in charge at Parkhead comes very much to the fore.
It seems strange, in the first instance, to think the Bhoys have not dominated Scottish football outright in no less than 14 years. It seems even stranger that they finally have the possibility to do so after the acrimony facing the start of their campaign.
To be knocked out of Champions League qualifying not once but twice seemed to spell out a campaign - or even full tenure - to forget for Deila at Celtic, as expectations and performances quickly dwindled.
How things turned around, though, through steady progress, consistent implementation of the same set of ideas and, ultimately, good management.
And what’s most striking about Celtic’s season so far is not necessarily their success itself. It’s the way boss Deila has gone about achieving his goals. Win, lose or draw, the 39-year-old will stick to his principles, maintaining a strong stance on what matters most to him - and do things very much his own way.
Gordon was no gamble
It may seem an obvious notion now - that Craig Gordon was always going to be a huge success with the Hoops - but it was not so way back last summer.
The 32-year-old shot stopper was without a club for two years, had suffered serious injury problems and, simply put, would be considered a risky purchase by anyone with an objective viewpoint.
No other club took a chance on the Scottish goalkeeper and, when Fraser Forster joined Southampton, the pressure increased on the man Celtic had now put their full faith in.
As stated, though, it now seems like it was plainly obvious all along - Gordon has been sensational for the Bhoys this term and was a calculated gamble, if a gamble at all as it panned out.
Footballers can change
As much as Celtic’s season itself has transformed from one entailing doom and gloom to one promising ultimate domestic glory, the 2014-15 campaign has also proved change is perfectly achievable for individual players.
The biggest case in point is Stefan Johansen, though Celtic fans may not necessarily have been aware a change was needed before the Norwegian came to Scotland.
When he was 18, Deila claims Johansen was a lazy, unfit specimen of professional footballer. He would know: he brought him to Stromsgodset and later to the Bhoys. In a complete personal turnaround, not only is the 24-year-old as hard a worker as any at Parkhead, he is one of Celtic’s players of the season.
Sign Scottish - or use the loan market
Transfer wise, it’s been a good season for the Hoops. The capture of Gordon on a free proved inspired, while Kris Commons eventually renewed his deal with the Scottish champions.
January was a success: Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong hitting the ground running is an understatement.
And the only major question mark is perhaps Stefan Scepovic, who could yet have a bright future at Celtic.
The success, as Mackay-Steven and Armstrong show, seems to come from buying Scottish - or using the loan market. For Aleksandar Tonev and Wakaso Mubarak haven’t exactly had breakthrough seasons at Parkhead but it hasn’t hurt the club due to the temporary nature of their deals.
At the same time, John Guidetti’s future is uncertain - but that’s the beauty of the loan market. Celtic can make an informed decision on whether they truly want to commit to bringing him on-board full-time having seen him in action for a full season. If not, there are plenty more gems for Deila to pluck… without transfer fees.
Celtic belong on the back pages
Finally, Celtic’s current campaign has shown that the Scottish champions belong on the back pages - and will always strive to be there.
Indeed, ahead of the Scottish League Cup final in March, Bhoys skipper Scott Brown was pictured slumped on a public street after an alleged drunken night out. This was just days before the showpiece event…
But did it affect Celtic’s performance in any way? And did it bother Brown on the field of play?
However often the Bhoys end up on a front page of a national newspaper - whether it is merited or not - Deila’s men have always looked ready to set the record straight where it matters.