I want to be euphoric after that, but it feels wrong somehow. For, what did this side do today other than what we knew they were capable of? Everything about that today was absolutely brilliant, with excellent displays from everyone on the pitch.
But over it all is this fact; this is what this manager expects of this team now, and so why should we not expect the same? Does it take away the fun from days like this? God no, that’s what you follow football to watch. That’s what every single one of us would want to see from our team … but days like this should be filled with awe at what we just saw.
And you know what? I’m not. Because we’ve seen that in flashes, in patches, and for long stretches of games at various times over the last year. It was a matter of time before it all came together in a single 90 minutes; indeed, had we not watched the thrashings of St Johnstone and Motherwell at home last season we still may not have a frame of reference for it.
But we did see those things, and so of course that frame of reference exists. That performance, as exceptional as it was, has to be judged by one set of standards only; our own. And based on that, this was no more than what was in the realms of possibility.
This is when you know that a team has arrived at where it was intended to be, when the opposition and what they do no longer provide the standard to beat far less to aspire to. Celtic stands alone on days like this, alone and above the rest in Scotland, far removed from the hum-drum and the mundane and the scrappy. From the long ball up the park or the scrambled goal in a packed penalty area. On days like this, we are in a different class.
We are the standard now, and try as the rest might they aren’t going to touch us. We are so clearly the best football team in this country that the debate itself seems vaguely insulting, as though it’s only being had to sell us short.
Everything about that today was brilliant; three of the goals were so near to the top drawer that you could close down the goal of the season awards right now with only these as nominations. But what do you do with Jota’s against Abaerdeen or Abada’s from last week? You see what I’m saying? On weeks like this it feels like we’re really competing against us.
Likewise with the player of the year awards; it would be God’s little joke after all the chatter about which of our front men if the guy who won it actually proved to be Greg Taylor; a subversion of expectations so dramatic Game of Thrones wouldn’t have scripted it. But you know what? If they did the shortlist tomorrow, there he’d be … with a chance.
That, today, was exceptional in every sense of the word except the definition we’re used to; this felt feels like nothing more than the latest piece of evidence for that which we already knew. That this is a special team under a special manager and that the sky is the limit for what they might achieve and how far they might go.
That today was brilliant, absolutely and without equivocation. And it still might not be the best this team is capable of. We might yet come to see this as “just another day at the office” before the season ends. That’s worth a moment or two to think about.