One of the straws our rivals and enemies were clutching to in the run-up to the game last midweek was that so many of our players were “making their debut” in the game.
Such a stupid thing for them to be hopeful about, as if none of these guys had ever played in major matches before in their careers.
A lot of these guys had not long before won a domestic cup.
This team has been tested in Spain, in Germany, in Romania, in the Czech Republic and in Holland. It has been tested here in Scotland.
It has been tested by criticism and doubters, and by some of our own fans who pick certain players and just hate on them until they break. Except the likes of Starfelt did not break. Instead they settled down and thrived.
This team and this manager have come through the flames of the early season, when everything they did was cast in the worst possible light.
Even when we were scoring freely the media was saying that the defence was a mess. When they couldn’t talk about that they were talking sheer rot that our goals were basically coming from one player; Kyogo Furuhashi.
We have come through some of the worst injury crises in our club’s history.
We have gone into so many critical games without key players that we hardly even notice it anymore.
Tom English pointed this out the other day when he talked about how we dismantled Ibrox’s pretenders with a team missing Jullien, Turnbull, Rogic and Kyogo himself.
That is impressive. That is the proof of this team’s talent and their mettle.
This is the proof that this is a potent squad now with a potent manager running the show.
For all these reasons, I was amazed that so many of the hacks were talking about this team, prior to Wednesday, as it if had yet to experience pressure or a serious test of its mental fortitude.
Even Hatate has been through it, as he was one of the top players in Japan and a title winner.
Now Ange has declared that this team is “battle hardened” and he is, of course, quite correct but he knows that it was battle hardened before Wednesday night, and that this toughness contributed to the win.
If others were late to suss it then that’s just their hard lines, and I can tell you that it had not even remotely dawned on our opponents before the game.
Like much of the media they had bought into this idea that our team was still weak and soft and vulnerable. Fools. Worse, fools because they had cherry-picked the “facts” they wanted to believe in and the “evidence” they wanted to consider.
And it was all ridiculous. And they look daft for believing it in the first place.
Worse, the implications for the future are also pretty clear.
This is a rough, tough, warrior Celtic team which has already tasted the success of a major honour.
If I were on the other side of this, I would be worried by that.
Very worried indeed.