The primary objective remains to be resolved. If there were grins among the fans filing out of Parkhead last night they came amid umpteen other expressions. Horror, fear, tension and relief also registered in the course of a typically fraught Champions League qualifier.
Celtic have a precious lead to defend in the Sonera Stadium in Helsinki next Wednesday and it was to their credit that they reasserted themselves in this match and came from behind to secure it. But both camps are entitled to find encouragement as they look to progress from the third qualifying round. The modest but capable Finnish champions have the lifeline of an away goal against a team who had the chances to bury them.
Celtic have had Braga, Utrecht and Sion to endure at this time of the year under Lennon's management and there were heads-in-hands when Rasmus Schuller squirted the ball into Fraser Forster's net for the opening goal early in the second half.
Celtic had started well then allowed HJK back in, but they were gutsy and forceful in regaining control. Gary Hooper and Charlie Mulgrew turned the first leg around and Celtic constantly buzzed in the search for a third. They might even fancy their chances of a win in Helsinki if someone has repealed the unwritten bylaw that the club does not win European away games.
They were worthy winners of this one, dictating play in the opening minutes and throughout the second half. The loose passes and misunderstandings were inevitable for a team playing its first match even if Lennon will recognise that a higher calibre of opposition than the Finns would have punished them. The tie is too finely balanced to call. Celtic supporters cannot yet trust their team to emerge from Helsinki with the result which would see them into the final play-off round before the group stage. On the first leg's evidence they are a better side than HJK, but not by enough to put them away properly.
Lennon's team selection was positive. Kris Commons passed a fitness test on his ankle injury and took his place in a side also including Hooper, Georgios Samaras and James Forrest. Samaras and Commons began as wide support men for Hooper but the positions were fluid. After the instant drama of Celtic working a chance for Hooper after only 10 seconds – he fired high into the side-netting –they settled into a brisk opening period which kept HJK on the back foot and threatened to yield a goal.
Samaras' runs opened them up down the left and Hooper and Commons tried to build intricate moves. It was encouraging. Forrest sent a header wide, Joe Ledley sliced a shot wide and the midfielder was close again with a drive pushed past the post by the goalkeeper Ville Wallen.
The Finnish champions were unremarkable. Organised and quick, but lacking an edge to their attacks and as guilty as Celtic of wasteful passing in good positions. All the same, they did enough to spread unease around the stands as Celtic gradually surrendered their early control and found themselves embroiled in an open, even match.
Parkhead held its breath when Victor Wanyama's clumsy tackle bundled down the former Hearts striker Juho Makela in the penalty area. Demba Savage would surely have scored had it not been for Adam Matthews' excellent saving tackle.
HJK had taken a toehold in the match and two minutes into the second half they had far more than that. Little Seb Mannstrom frequently troubled Celtic with his pace and energy down the right but the opener came from the other side. Schuller burrowed in behind Matthews. Forster saved his shot but the rebound came back off Wanyama to Schuller. It was a gift, and he volleyed in from a tight angle.
Celtic were behind for seven horrible minutes. Then Samaras rediscovered his menace on the left and flung over an excellent delivery into the goalmouth. HJK's defenders were absent and Hooper raced in to ram the ball into the net. Another six minutes, another Celtic goal. Commons, who had earlier hit a post, sent a corner into the heart of the penalty area which found Mulgrew racing in to connect with a clever downward header. Commons, Mulgrew, Scott Brown and Forrest all had cracks at goal in search for a third.
The match may have had plenty of predictable elements but before kick-off there was a first: the novelty of a Parkhead crowd being transfixed by swimming. The stadium screens showed the Olympic 200-metre breaststroke final and the stands rose to Glaswegian, and Celtic fan, Michael Jamieson as he entered the closing metres.
The swimmer will be a guest of the club in the near future and will be invited to show off his silver medal. His team have 90 minutes to give him a chance of parading it at a Champions League game.