An outcome that left them without a victory in the fixture over a season for the first time since 1999-2000, in that campaign, they ended their derby encounters by being mauled 4-0 at Ibrox under an interim manager - then Kenny Dalglish - on an afternoon when the runaway champions could have won by any margin. It was said then Dick Advocaat’s men were destined to be long untouchable for a Celtic in complete disarray. Instead, when the teams next met, Martin O’Neill utilised eight of the same players that had proved so devoid in the Ibrox ignominy to fashion an astonishing 6-2 triumph that laid the foundations for Celtic to emphatically reclaim the league crown.
The issue is that, however recuperative Eddie Howe can prove should his expected appointment happen, there aren’t eight players in the current Celtic squad good enough to help summer reinforcements knock Steven Gerrard’s men from their perch. Not least after Rangers produced their most commanding derby display of the season to dish out a tousing that leaves them on course for a prized unbeaten league campaign.
Allbeit, they were aided by their opponents’ reduction to 10 men early on as a consequence of a Callum McGregor being wrongly given a second yellow by referee Nick Walsh for a foul that a recent rule change meant should have been superseded by the advantage played, from which Kemar Roofe scored.
O’Neill inherited such as Henrik Larsson - we could stop there, really - Lubo Moravcik, Paul Lambert, Stiliyan Petrov, Johan Mjallby, Jackie McNamara and Tom Boyd. A core with which he could move forward. Howe, if it is him, has no such riches with which to operate. Instead, the likes of Odsonne Edouard - despite producing one of his more eye-catching goalscoring displays of late at Ibrox - Kristoffer Ajer and, it seems, Ryan Christie appear set to move on, and would not seem to represent the huge losses they would have a year ago. Ajer, indeed, in the latest smarting simply did not show any of the defensive qualities obligatory even for a competent centre-back.
Everton loanee Jonjoe Kenny has been found out in the more testing derby environment, and he will be packed off back to his parent club along with fellow temporary signings Diego Laxalt and the forgotten-about Shane Duffy. With Scott Brown heading to Aberdeen, of the players John Kennedy deployed, only David Turnbull, James Forrest, and McGregor - despite his Ibrox nightmare and recent patchy form - seem equipped to be trusted to contribute to a revival at the club. Mohamed Elyounoussi could be in that bracket, but it remains to be seen whether Celtic will seek to sign him on a permanent basis from Southampton.
It means the incoming manager at the Parkhead club, essentially requires to recruit seven first choices in the summer. As Kennedy has recognised, players possessing not just talent but a toughness and physicality that seems to have evaporated among the present squad. That is a daunting shopping list for new arrival to the post. Celtic have suffered an excruciating barren season. The pain may merely be set to endure, though.