CELTIC's dominance of the SPFL Premiership cannot be questioned, only measured.
When the season closes on Sunday they will have won Scotland's top division by more points than any previous champions since the first league title was contested 123 years ago. A year ago they won by 16 points and their lead this morning stands at 30 with two games left to possibly extend it even further. This comfortable win over Aberdeen reflected all the months of league football which preceded it: Celtic have been out of sight.
Aberdeen have already eclipsed the points total Motherwell reached in finishing second last season. In fact they have the most points of any non-Old Firm club since Hearts reached 74 in 2005/06 (the George Burley season). Aberdeen's campaign has been impressive and consistent, beating Celtic twice in the league and cup when no other Premiership team has done so even once.
Loading article content
Again they asked questions of Neil Lennon's side at the weekend. They should have had a penalty at 3-2 down and a shot from Willo Flood hit a post. Yet the invention and menace of Leigh Griffiths, Anthony Stokes and Kris Commons, after a couple of crisp Scott Brown finishes, blitzed them.
Celtic will win the league next season too. It is a topic their players are free to discuss openly without being accused of arrogance. Their resources are so superior that the inevitable completion of a fourth consecutive title next year is no more than a statement of the bleedin' obvious.
Efe Ambrose was asked on Saturday if there was any prospect of Aberdeen challenging them over the course of a whole league campaign and did not think it especially likely that the gap will be much lower than 30 points again. "If we get things right I don't think anyone can get close to Celtic. Last year it was Motherwell [leading the challenge], this year it is Aberdeen. We never know how it is going to be but I think the league is getting better and teams are trying to compete with Celtic. So the more they try to compete, the more we will try to step up."
Celtic's season actually feels undercooked. Their supremacy should have been further reflected by far more impressive cup campaigns. The treble is their domestic priority next season, confirmed Ambrose.
The three-in-a-row they wanted to avoid on Saturday was another defeat by Aberdeen having lost to them in the William Hill Scottish Cup and in the league in February. "The manager put that in our head before the game," said Ambrose. "At Celtic our priority is winning, that is a mentality we have no matter who we play.
"But Aberdeen are a great side we have to give everything we've got. They are a good side. We owed them a big game."
Celtic delivered and were comfortable winners in a refreshing, eventful game. Griffiths, Stokes and Commons were as bright as buttons, their speed of thought and the precision of their play causing Aberdeen all sorts of problems. The midfield was highly competitive but Celtic had far more in attack, especially when Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney succumbed to injury in the 39th minute. They are far blunter without him. Defensively their tackling and marking were too weak and Celtic helped themselves to a handful of goals, including Commons's 30th of the season.
Dundee United's dropped points ensured Aberdeen will definitely finish in the top three, securing Europa League football for the first time in five seasons. As he reflected on winning the Scottish Football Writers' Association manager of the year award, though, Derek McInnes admitted that he remained resigned to competing in a domestic league his side cannot win.
"I don't like saying that, it sounds defeatist. I understand how I can be criticised for saying it, but it's a fact," said the Aberdeen manager.
"We can fight Celtic over 90 minutes as we have shown this season. Every game against them has been competitive and we have managed to beat them a couple of times. But over a campaign I don't think Aberdeen, or any other club, can compete with them at the minute.
"It would need a really poor Celtic season to occur for anybody to get close to them and I don't see that with the current players they have and the current manager they have."
Niall McGinn scored when Adam Matthews mucked up a backwards pass then Shay Logan - who is soon out of contract at Brentford and is keen on converting his loan to a permanent move to Aberdeen - smacked in a fine long-range goal.
"The lads know we can beat Celtic," said Logan. "No-one was scared. Yeah they're Celtic, the number one team in Scotland at the minute, but that's no reason to come here and not give 100 per cent."
The second best team in Scotland did exactly that, but Celtic are in a league of their own.