Brendan Rodgers believes a Celtic title win against Hearts on Sunday would bookend a “remarkable” first Ladbrokes Premiership season, which began with a 2-1 win at Tynecastle.
New signing Scott Sinclair stepped off the bench to score a late debut winner against the Jambos in Gorgie on August 7, in Rodgers’ first league game as Hoops boss.
The Parkhead club will be crowned champions for the sixth straight season on Friday night if second-placed Aberdeen lose to Dundee at Dens Park.
However, Rodgers is preparing to return to Edinburgh, where it all began for him, to take the final step to the title.
The Northern Irishman said: “Obviously the first game of the season was at Hearts and, if I look back at the season we have had, it has been remarkable.
“It is a great mark of how the team has progressed.
“I look back to that game and we won it. It was tough, we played well in patches but it was only really the beginnings of the team working together.
“To go back there this early with the chance to win it, it really shows the level and how much the players have developed.
“But we don’t underestimate Hearts. We know it will be a tough game as they always are there.
“We will go there with a real mentality to get the result.”
On the cusp of winning the title and with the domestic treble still up for grabs, Rodgers praised the efforts of his players this season.
He said: “I have to give them massive credit. We still have the season to finish and we want to finish strong, but I have to look at how concentrated they have been every day.
“They have never had a lazy day here.
“Football players can look for excuses and some excuses you wouldn’t believe.
“Everything, from tactics, to the lift outside the room means they can’t sleep. Or staying in a hotel by the coast so the sea is keeping them awake.
“But I have never had that from this group. Not one.
“Everything I have asked them to do, they have done and any issues that we have had we have been able to reflect on it, become better and improve.
“It has been a real joy to work with them and they have got their rewards for their hard work and consistency.
“They have been winning, which helps, they have enjoyed the way we have tried to work and the level of preparation.
“But ultimately, when you are improving and feel improvement as a player it is something you enjoy. It is as simple as that.
“You try to create a good learning environment and the product of that is improvement for staff and players and 95 per cent will want to improve - the other five per cent won’t, but you don’t want them anyway.”