The week ahead will bring two different, yet equally vital, challenges for Celtic.
On Wednesday, the Glasgow giants are in Denmark, hoping to finish off FC Midtjylland following a Champions League first leg draw at Celtic Park.
Then, next Saturday evening, a visit to Hearts, where Tynecastle is always a traditionally hard venue for either half of the Old Firm to prevail in.
Somehow, Celtic must attempt to successfully navigate these two crucial encounters, during a busy period of hunting down those who can help relaunch a wasteful unit.
With multiple positions targeted, the Hoops will have, intriguingly, a fresh line-up by the end of this transfer window. Yet will the new Bhoys be of the required quality, or is this season’s recruitment policy going to be hurried, speculative slapdash?
At least Ange Postecoglou has made a head start with transfers. On the higher scale of outlay, Carl Starfelt and Kyogo Furuhashi are not involved yet, but Celtic are targeting players in every position. As they must do.
Even at this early stage, boss Postecoglou comes across both as a pragmatist and reasonably chirpy, under the responsibility. Naturally, one might conclude that, given the meltdown of last term, what other choice does the Australian have but to, in his words, keep ‘chipping away’ in terms of landing new recruits?
However, some Celtic fans continue to go in two-footed towards the club — the boardroom, the choice of coach and the toxic dilution of standards. Nevertheless, many appreciate Postecoglou’s honesty. Cultural shifts and revived mindsets are difficult to achieve overnight.
Supporters need to give the ex-Australia boss time. The reality is that Postecoglou hasn’t got his own staff with him through no fault of his own and is currently relying on John Kennedy — tainted by association with the collapse of the 2020-21 10-in-a-row tilt — to guide him around the furniture.
And with all due respect to Stephen Welsh and Dane Murray, this is not the central defensive pairing the Celts faithful expect to see in a crucial Champions League qualifier or indeed throughout a taxing campaign.
That this is also an enforced partnership is, right now, unfortunate for the manager, despite the fact both players — with a combined age of just 39 — acquitted themselves well in the opening tie against Midtjylland.
At present, this is risky for Postecoglou, up against a confident and determined Rangers, intent on defending their newly won Premiership. Irrespective of how the Midtjylland clash goes, new signings will arrive at Celtic in the next “two to three” weeks, he says.
What is impressive to observe is how Postecoglou is exercising his duties.
On several occasions since taking over last month, he has stressed that all he can control is the here-and-now and he is not for wasting valuable time in persuading players to stay against their wishes — see Kristoffer Ajer, flogged to Brentford last week, with Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie eyeing the exit door.
Curiously, the Aussie is, in fact, whether by accident or design, embracing mindfulness at work.
It is a wise philosophy, considering the wider problems at Parkhead could easily overwhelm even a manager experienced on the Scottish scene, never mind a blow-in picking up the slack after Neil Lennon’s wretched final season, in addition to the bizarre, ill-fated fixation Celtic had with Eddie Howe.
Postecoglou, of course, was not for revealing his innermost thoughts but, reading between the lines from discussions with the media on Friday, it appears that those aiming for pastures new should be jettisoned soon.
The Celtic chief can only impress upon the likes of Edouard and Christie the need to perform, short term, to gain a desired move — and if the price is right at least suitable replacements can subsequently be drafted in. Otherwise, as Postecoglou admits, he cannot control what goes on externally with wantaway Edouard, so why waste the energy? Smart thinking.
With Starfelt snapped up to replace Ajer, Postecoglou’s contingency plans are gradually making sense — and the Celtic support will be encouraged to hear the multitude of problem areas on the field are being addressed. The real issue remaining is the actual quality the club is prepared to stump up for.
Furuhashi comes into the encouraging category. For, make no mistake, Celts need proven class if they are to take a sustained fight to Rangers for the title.