Scott Brown travelled to England last week for a medical appointment he feared might signal the end of his season.
He headed home buoyed by fresh hope and ambition that it might instead be a campaign when he becomes only the third Celtic captain in the club’s history to lead a treble-winning side.
Brown’s damaged left knee remains supported by an elaborate brace, which he quips makes him bear a resemblance to RoboCop.
But Celtic’s own all-action hero is now on course to return to the heart of their midfield by the middle of February.
Despite the recent difficulties encountered by the Scottish champions, which have again placed manager Ronny Deila under close scrutiny, Brown is convinced he could be celebrating an historic achievement when the dust settles on the season in May.
The 30-year-old is determined to follow Billy McNeill and Tom Boyd as the on-field leader for a domestic clean sweep.
“That would be the best way (to silence the critics),” said Brown. “If we can do it, it would be huge for the club as it’s not been done for 15 years now.
“It would put a smile on everyone’s face. It’s the one thing left for me that I’ve not done with Celtic.
“How much would it mean to me? It’s too much to even explain to be perfectly honest. It would mean everything to the gaffer and everyone else in that dressing room as it would mean we’d go down in history, just as players like Neil Lennon, Henrik Larsson and all that team in 2001 did as well. That’s where we want to be.
“It drives me on to get back, playing in league games first of all, back to winning ways and then hopefully in the Scottish Cup final at the end of the season.
“I should be back in about eight weeks. I went down to see the specialist on Friday and was told I don’t need the operation.
“I’m delighted with that so hopefully I can kick on now. It was a big relief because my season would have been over otherwise.
“I have the brace on for another few weeks and then I’ll take it from there. I have lost a lot of muscle in my thigh and calf, so I need to start building that up again. I will be in the gym for the next few weeks doing that.”
Brown has missed Celtic’s last five matches since suffering the injury, a spell which has seen them eliminated from Europe and have their lead at the top of the Premiership cut to just one point.
“It’s hard to be out of action,” he added. “I want to be on the pitch with the lads, being part of it all.
“You miss that when you are upstairs in the gym and you see them walking out in the training ground, even in the bad weather. It’s just more of a hassle than anything else. I get bored too easy.
“But even when I was playing, the whole season hasn’t been as good as it could have been and we need to kick on now.
‘We’re halfway through the season, we’re top of the league and still in both cups but we need to do as well as we possibly can. We need to show that everyone is enjoying playing football again, get back to winning ways and put a smile on people’s faces.”
Celtic’s recent struggles have been largely concentrated on their own patch. They have just gone four home games without a victory for the first time since Tony Mowbray’s dismal tenure six years ago.
“It’s always hard at Celtic Park because teams just defend against us,” said Brown. “Even when I went there as a Hibs player, it was all about defending. If you do get that one chance to silence the Celtic fans, that’s what everyone wants to do.
“It’s hard if we don’t score in the first 25 or 30 minutes as everyone gets that wee bit anxious. You hope you get a wee chance here and there but if that doesn’t happen the opposition can always go up the park and get a wee deflection.
“But we know we need to do better as a group and play better all the way through games. We have to believe in ourselves as well.”
Brown was speaking as he presented a donation of £5000 to Simpsons Special Care Babies at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. His own son, who will be three in March, was cared for at the unit when born two months prematurely.
“It’s good to give something back,” he said. “This hospital did a lot for my boy. I hope they can maybe get a bit of equipment for the ward which might save someone’s life.
“We were up here for about seven or eight weeks with Sonny. He was meant to be in for three months but he developed quickly. He’s doing well now.”