What’s the earlies the league title has ever been won?
Do you remember back in 2011, when Celtic were 17 points behind Rangers in November, and Hugh Keevins said that the league race was over?
We turned that one around.
Fast forward nearly a decade, and how many of us still thought the league race was winnable at the start of the same month in 2020?
There were certainly enough nagging doubts, but I didn’t think it had gotten out of reach until the end of that month.
The signs, though, were there much sooner.
For some, October last year, when the new Ibrox club came to town and beat us at home without us registering a shot on target was the moment doubts became something more and a lot of folk started to think that it wasn’t going to be our ten in a row after all.
Needless to say, we were in nowhere near the trouble we’re in right now in the aftermath of that one.
We are much deeper in the hole at the moment, and the reason it doesn’t feel like it is that the whole vibe around the place is different.
Most of us see clear progress.
We think about the players to come back into the team and the way Ange wants us to play, and we see reasons to be more optimistic. There is the sense of something getting started, not of a horrifying descent as a great era came to a dreadful end.
But the truth is, unless we drastically improve our away form, in a very real way the league title might very well be out of our hands come the end of next month.
We were damned lucky yesterday that our rivals didn’t open that six-point gap up; that may yet come to haunt them, as I pointed out in a piece I put up last night. In the meantime, their four-point lead haunts us.
Hibs, Aberdeen and Motherwell will need to be navigated away in the league.
The potential for disaster is obvious.
We shouldn’t even concern ourselves with the poor form of the Pittodrie club, who we face first, on the third of the month.
We lost yesterday to a team that was bottom of the table when the game kicked off.
I hope to God the reality of that has already set in at our club, and especially in our boardroom. We have a reasonably easy path towards that game in the next fortnight; the club needs to use it get some work done, and in particular the backroom stuff Ange wants and needs.
Ultimately, the manager must carry the can if results don’t improve but the mood in the stands will not be to hold him solely accountable when those above him run the place in such shambolic fashion. They better start upping their game as well.
Remember, I said yesterday that the club which hits form first will win this league.
If that’s going to be us the best time to start is now, and into October.
If we come through that torrid month with maximum points, then the road ahead of us looks far less daunting.
Emerge from it with our dismal away record continuing into another cycle and I think it might already be too late to claw back the league campaign.
That’s what’s up for grabs.