Whenever I write a piece where I start with, or include, historical analogy, I have to be careful that I pick the right one.
The right one for this piece is difficult.
I keep wanting to use Evil Empire examples, from reality and from fiction.
One nags at me today, and so I’m going to use it but with a qualifier; I am not suggesting that we are the dark power of Mordor.
There is a moment in Tolkien’s magnificent Lord Of The Rings where the combined forces of Men have secured a stunning victory.
Their amazing accomplishment has shaken Mordor, and in particular the revelation that the battle was won, in part, by a leader who Sauron never expected to see arise.
A key city has been defended, and a vast force beaten back.
Yet one amongst their number knows (or thinks he knows) that it is a hollow win, and perhaps even a Pyric one.
“For a little space you may triumph on the field, for a day,” he tells the rest. “But against the Power that now arises there is no victory. To this city only the first finger of its hand has yet been stretched …”
One of the great criticisms that has been levelled at our club down through the years is that we’ve been content to do just enough to stay ahead. At some point, that was always likely to let our enemies catch up to us, at least for a while.
We have never put forth our full power, in order to simply crush them.
That is a huge strategic failing.
Yet there is a hard truth at the centre of that which Ibrox has never wanted to face.
Imagine what would happen if we did?
Celtic’s failure to do it is enshrined in our whole history; we never build from a position of strength, not even when Rodgers was the manager and the time for doing so was perfect.
Had we given him what he wanted in that third summer window, who knows where our team would be now?
The guys he had identified – Castagne, McGinn and Scharr – would have been guaranteed starters and we’d have reaped the rewards for years.
That was the last time our club was in the hands of someone with a complete vision for the team, something of his own.
I think Ange’s vision has even more clarity to it.
And incredibly, that vision is being backed – fully backed – by the board.
Think of the summer, and the twelve signings the manager made.
Already, this winter, we have completed three from Japan and the Irish kid Kenny.
Now, according to reports, the Australian international midfielder Riley McGee will join us for £3 million … and at the same time, negotiations are said to be underway for more players, as well as securing our two loanees, Jota and Carter Vickers.
This is incredible.
What Ibrox has always feared is a Celtic that is driven, purposeful and intent not only on victory but on crushing all opposition.
Is that where we are right now?
Certainly, I’ve never known a winter transfer window even remotely like this in terms of its grand sweep and ambition.
But what comes to mind most is that Tolkien idea of a power that, thus far, has only extended a single finger … and it’s that image that should haunt our foes way beyond the here and now.
Because in this weird season, and this strange window, you can see that perhaps the lessons of the past have been learned.
Instead of putting forth one finger, we are now extending a whole hand, making it into a fist.
The next step is to bring it down, repeatedly, until they are on their knees.
And from there, as another wonderful writer darkly put it – and I’m not comparing us to The Party of Orwell’s 1984 either, merely emphasising another point – putting our boot on their face.
Celtic looks, today, like a club transformed, one that has finally shaken off the sleepy, almost casual, manner in which we’ve long operated, to show Ibrox the full measure of its strength.
And the sight of us behaving in such a way is pretty awesome.
This looks like it could be the transfer window that changes everything.