All will be clear by bedtime the night after tomorrow. Remember that prudent financial discipline and shrewd bargain-hunting that brought them Champions League football last season? Well, it's one bad result away from critics tearing it apart as a timid strategy based on caution and lack of ambition.
If Shakhter Karagandy are celebrating at full-time on Wednesday the Celtic directors had better get the tin helmets on because a firestorm of anger and abuse is heading their way. But how much of the blame would be theirs? Celtic are in a precarious position in the play-off round - 2-0 down and on the ropes against the champions of Kazakhstan - partly because they have just sold their best striker, best midfielder and best defender, replacing each of them (if at all) with inferior alternatives.
Maybe Gary Hooper would have buried the chance James Forrest missed in Astana, maybe Kelvin Wilson or Victor Wanyama would have reacted to prevent one or both of Shakhter's goals, and Celtic would not be in this state of hyperventilation about what is likely to happen in the second leg.
Celtic have a poorer team now than the one that delivered some sporadic heroics in the group stage last season. Supporters like to think of their club constantly evolving and improving, and it is not easy for them to comprehend how that process can be interrupted or even sent into reverse when £40m of UEFA prize money and transfer fees has been flushed into Parkhead.
Supporters do not want to hear that this money gets eaten up by dreary matters like paying wages and other overheads. Celtic's problem is that fans see "big names" going but not coming. When they sign players for around £2m there is a shrug of the shoulders. No amount of water-into-wine transformations of players at Celtic will alter the fact that anyone bought for around £1-2m will generate a fairly subdued response.
No-one has been over-excited by the arrivals of Steven Mouyoloko, Virgil van Dijk, Amido Balde or Derk Boerrigter, even though each of them fits the established Celtic model as a young player with the potential for improvement and profitable resale. The days of signing guys worth £6m or more are long gone. Scottish football has become all but impossible to sell to players of that calibre, and in any case their wage demands would disrupt the pay structure.
The affordable, realistic and still relatively exciting level of signings Celtic can hope to deliver cost around £4m-5m but even at that level concluding deals is easier said than done. Artjoms Rudnevs, Alfred Finnbogason and Marko Arnautovic have not signed despite the time and resources devoted to seducing them. Teemu Pukki could join from Schalke this week for around £3m, the sort of price which suggests he will be good rather than great.
This year has been uncommonly bountiful for Celtic because of the Champions League money and the Wanayama, Hooper and Wilson transfer fees. But the club posted a £7.3m loss in the 12 months to June 2012. The years of feast, such as this one, must be used to protect and stabilise the club against the possibility of leaner ones.
Celtic have their financial model and sometimes (perhaps in most seasons) it will reward them with a squad capable of making it into the Champions League group stage. Sometimes they will fall short.They cannot guarantee the group stage every year because they cannot attract the level of player who would do so. Besides, football does not work as neatly as that. Chris Sutton, John Hartson and Maciej Zuraswki - combined cost £14m - started against Artmedia Bratislava eight years ago and Celtic lost 5-0.
Criticism of the club's fiscal strategy will be inevitable if they go out on Wednesday but any failure would be the players'. Celtic have a stronger team than Shakhter Karagandy and they have the responsibility to prove it. Of the players who defeated Barcelona last season only Wanyama, Wilson and Miku are no longer at the club (Hooper did not play that night). Does the absence of those three really excuse the dramatic contrast in the two results?
No club have a divine right to milk UEFA's Champions League riches. Celtic were required to overcome Cliftonville, Elfsborg and Karagandy to reach the group stage. If that is beyond a set of players who reached the last 16 last season they would not have deserved the £20m bounty that comes from making it.