I remember seasons like this; for a brief moment, the last campaign was one of them.
You get ahead of your rivals for a spell and hope to pull away.
Then there comes a day when they drop points in a match and instead of moving decisively clear you slip up at the same time.
You edge a little further in front, but that’s not a cause for celebration as much as frustration.
And in the frustration is an element of fear.
Because you know when your own team isn’t playing well. You know when you’ve blown a chance to give yourself the thing you need most when your own side is going through a spell of struggling; you’ve blown room to breathe.
The advantage you have is slight. It can be chipped away and overcome still.
Had the Ibrox club won today, the pressure on Celtic to win their next two games would be immense.
I think it’s still pretty high.
But there’s pressure on Ibrox as well because they haven’t gotten further in front.
They know the psychological weight of moving into a six point lead this early, and four is still a big number … but this is how the doubts get started.
They don’t look invincible this season.
They don’t even feel particularly invincible.
They’ve lost four games already, three in Europe and one in the league.
They barely dropped that in the whole of the last campaign.
We have at least shown flashes wherein you know we can do a damned sight better than we did today.
They have shown nothing so far.
And when you are going through a spell like that, when the bloom has come off of last season’s rose, when the things that clicked aren’t clicking anymore and you’re picking up injuries and whittling down the strength of the squad you need all the space you can get as you try and get your act together and put together some kind of consistent winning run.
Because here’s the fact of it, in case it’s not already obvious; the first of these two teams to put one of those together is probably going to win this title.
The first time one of these sides goes on an eight, nine, ten game winning run they will have the momentum they need for the rest of the campaign.
If that’s us, we will quickly overcome their modest gap, and having thrown a lead away … well that eats into a team like nothing else does and then days like this take on their real significance.
Which of these two teams is best placed to go on that run?
Look across the city; there are obviously real problems behind the scenes over there.
Even in the games, like last weekend, where they won you can see that something isn’t right … they won three points in Perth courtesy of a penalty kick and an unstoppable screamer.
That’s little more than rolling the dice and getting a six.
Luck doesn’t last.
Had we been on the end of a six-point gap tonight I’d have felt pretty despondent.
Had they hit Motherwell for four or five today I’d have felt genuinely concerned.
But they have feet of clay and I feel that they’ve missed a big opportunity on a day when we weren’t at the races at all, miles from the football we know we are capable of producing.
We can be so much better than we were this afternoon, we know that because we’ve witnessed it in this campaign already.
The question is, are they topped out?
What do they have in the tank when they go to tough away grounds and drop points on a day when we’re coasting?
Football games are not just won on the pitch and league titles are not just won their either; they are psychological contests as much as anything else, and part of why they took such heart last season was that we were seriously on our knees and that was obvious, early, and one of the days on which it became most obvious was when they came to Parkhead and won and we failed to start pulling away from them.
That’s how it starts, with little doubts.
So today they are frustrated, but mark my words they are also a little bit scared.
When you have your opponent on the ropes you need to hammer him onto the canvass lest you pay a high price for it later.
Today they failed to strike us a savage blow.
Does that look more like us or them?
Think that one over.
It will be playing on a lot of minds over there.