It was Adolf Hitler, making one of the gravest miscalculations in the history of war, who predicted, on the eve of Operation Barbarossa, that “we only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.”
The echoes of Dave King’s “house of cards” prediction are obvious.
Hitler had watched the Soviet Union struggle to defeat Finland. He had watched as his Wehrmacht swept aside the Poles and then the Allied Powers in the West. He believed that the march to Moscow would be over in a matter of months.
But he was doing something that has been common all through recorded history; he was ignoring the fundamentals, a mistake Yamamoto did not make later on when, having sprung the shock on the Americans at Pearl Harbour he is reputed to have said instead, “I fear that all we have done is wake a sleeping giant, and filled him with a terrible resolve.”
Had we won the title last season I do believe that it could – possibly – have delivered a killer blow to the second Ibrox operation. Because they were reeling under the weight of our successive blows. They were hamstrung, weak, financially done in.
Champions League qualification was supposed to change that. It was supposed to lay foundations for them, or so the media would have you believe. In truth, it would have bought them a little time. That club is still in a hell of a state behind the scenes.
What King probably realises already is that his club will never be in a position to deliver the knock-out blow.
Hitler should have known it before opening the Eastern Front. The Japanese knew they could not defeat the United States militarily; the strategy behind Pearl Harbour was to cripple them long enough to grab the Pacific territories and the British Eastern Empire and consolidate.
They, at least, fought for specific, limited objectives.
Yet King fed the fans this guff – this utter rot – about a house of cards.
Even at our worst over the summer it wasn’t remotely possible for us to collapse like that. We were always going to get a manager in who would have been able to lay the foundations for a serious assault on the league … it might have taken time, but you know what? As the song says, “time is on our side.”
We are too big to fall down completely. We are too well built, the fundamentals are too strong.
Celtic is richer, bigger, more cosmopolitan, more appealing to the outsider, less corrupted and polluted by bitterness and bigoted baggage. We have a greater stadium, and longer reach. We have the right philosophy.
Our problems have been issues of leadership; once those were resolved there was never the slightest doubt that we would reclaim our preeminent place in the Scottish game. When Rangers fell into liquidation it left us the last superpower standing.
Nothing that has happened at Ibrox in the past decade has altered the fundamentals to the extent that their club has a real chance of cementing a position of dominance. Their one title win was built on unsustainable debt. Our successes were built on real, solid foundations and once we had proper leadership at the helm that was going to make a big difference.
Ibrox can fight for limited objectives. The occasional trophy.
If they have an exceptional year which coincides with a really bad one at Parkhead they may even win the odd title.
But the next 20 years are going to look an awful lot like the last ten; periods where Celtic win everything in sight, periods of true darkness at Ibrox, periods where they flirt with existential peril.
Tomorrow will not decide this title one way or another, but if we win do not underestimate the enormous psychological damage it will do to their club.
Their aura of supremacy will be shredded.
Their invincible swagger will be gone, and I don’t think we’ll see it again in this campaign.
Once they realise that we’re not even down far less out, once they see that we’ve regrouped and come back stronger I think the utter futility of even trying to play the long game against us will hit that club like a sledgehammer.
Tomorrow it is the duty of this Celtic team to deliver that first hammer blow.
To slam it down on them and then again and again.
To remind them that there are reasons why we’re the most successful Scottish club of this generation, to show them the spirt of the Quadruple Treble and the strength that made it possible.