When Celtic were put away in Europe once again at a level they were ‘expected’ to proceed from, it truly exposed the fundamental differences between Rangers and Celtic as they currently stand.
In short, Rangers are domestic chokers – can’t handle the pressure in the league and fall to the likes of St Johnstone. Referees don’t help, but harsh reality is Rangers aren’t good enough on the home front.
Celtic, sadly, are ruthless at home – they don’t slip up much, know how to win, and they also have a little assistance from referees.
However, take the tale onto the continent, and it becomes patently clear that the tables are turned.
Rangers strode through a brutal group and made the last 32, before convincingly putting away a brilliant and in form Portuguese side.
By contrast, Celtic got through their much easier group (Italian clubs have never given a hoot about the Uefa Cup or Europa League), with Rennes clearly not interested and only Cluj, an average Romanian mob, actually showing up, only to be outwitted by a solid if unspectacular Danish side.
Once again, Celtic had been undone in Europe – if it wasn’t Deila it was Rodgers, if it wasn’t Rodgers it’s Lennon – they just can’t handle football at that level.
Whereas Steven Gerrard has absolutely got the Midas touch v continental competition.
Bear in mind none of Celtic’s last three managers have the level of European pedigree Gerrard has – whereas Rangers’ manager clearly knows how to win at this quality.
On the domestic front, the one Celtic will say is the only one that counts, it’s a different kettle of fish – that Celtic will likely win 9IAR and relentlessly keep going towards another (tainted) title.
So which really matters more?
Globally, there is no doubt the UEL is the bigger fish, with its auto UCL spot on winning the thing and a £15M prize fund for that too.
As we said in a recent poll, if we truly had to choose, UEL would be it because of the doors it can open.
10IAR is a little different. That one must be stopped.
But for now Celtic fans can only look on as Rangers take their rightful place among the best 16 teams in the Europa League.
And not a single one of them wouldn’t wish they were there too.