Away from the fiscal firestorm that was engulfing their old foes down Govan way, the scene brought to mind in Glasgow's east end was more like an easy burning barbecue. As the bottom fell out of the Rangers empire and the Ibrox giants moved into administration, Peter Lawwell, the Celtic chief executive, was uttering such phrases as "very robust" and "very stable" in regard to the club's finances.
The profits may have been a modest £180,000, but the policy of prudence at Parkhead seems to be paying off. Since the giddy days of the early noughties when Martin O'Neill, the former manager, could command cheques with a fair few noughts on them to lure the likes of John Hartson and Chris Sutton to the SPL for a combined £12 million, things have been slightly less lavish.
For Neil Lennon, the current incumbent of the managerial hot- seat – and himself a one-time £6m signing at the club – having to work on that dreaded 'limited budget' is something he has been used to from day one. "We've cut our cloth accordingly and it hurt," said the Northern Irishman. "We had to bite the bullet on quite a few occasions. You can see that the foresight of the club was the right thing to do. Nobody could see the recession coming, it has bit into society in more ways than anyone could imagine, but this club has been prepared for that, better than any other club in Scotland."
This penny pinching lark has its frustrations, however. Even before he took up the manager's post, Lennon confessed that Celtic had been interested in a certain Nikica Jelavic, but simply couldn't stump up the cash. Of course, the prolific Croat ended up on the other side of the city when Rangers forked out £4m to Rapid Vienna (a decent chunk of which is still owed to the Austrians) and then flogged him on to Everton in the January transfer window for £5.5m as the HMRC vultures circled above.
Once ensconced in the manager's throne, things didn't get easier but, in these times of austerity, Lennon has ploughed on regardless. "There have been instances when the board have said 'no further, no more money'", he added. "I know before my time as manager there was an interest in Jelavic certainly. We couldn't match the fee or the club didn't want to pay the kind of money asked for. Even in this window, we've looked at English players and it's been [a case of] 'too much money'. You understand the budget you have. It can be frustrating, because you'd always like a bit more quality, but I'm really happy with what we've got."
What he got for his money were the likes of Beram Kayal, Gary Hooper, Victor Wanyama and Emilio Izaguirre. Amid the economic restrictions, Lennon managed to cast his net far and wide and has been rewarded for his adventure.
"We maybe got a bit lucky because when I first came in I thought the club needed experience," he admitted. "I went for David James, Sol Campbell and Jimmy Bullard, but never got them. Instead we signed the likes of Kayal, Izaguirre and Hooper as different options. It's a credit to them that they've come in to British football and competed to a high level in Scotland and Europe as well."
While there has been a series of red letter days for Rangers during a fraught week, Daniel Majstorovic, Celtic's Swedish defender, was handed a significant boon when his controversial red card during last Saturday's clash with Inverness Caley Thistle was rescinded by the SFA's fast-track tribunal.
The 34-year-old, like everyone, has been keeping a close eye on matters at Ibrox. The uncertainty being felt by all those involved with Rangers is something Majstorovic can relate to and he extended his sympathy having experienced financial hardships during his spell at AEK Athens, the 11-time Greek champions. "I went six months (without being paid)," said the Swedish cap. "I've secured the money and of course I will get it but I just need to be patient. It's terrible and it affects the football there a lot. You want to be focused on the game, but when these things affect you it's not easy. So I know what the guys at Rangers are going through."
In the midst of a rousing 17-match winning run, and now leading the SPL table by 14 points in the wake of Rangers' administration punishment, Majstorovic and his Celtic team-mates travel to Easter Road today for a joust with a Hibernian side who were the last team to plunder points from them after a 0-0 draw at the end of October.
Lennon, who rather modestly suggested "we're bobbing along nicely", has a first title as a manager in his grasp. With Rangers set to be weakened and ravaged by the cost-cutting measures, the prospect of Celtic going on to dominate the Scottish game unhindered and replicating the nine-in-a-row of days of yore has been talked about in wild abandon . Not by Lennon though. "I'll be f***ing happy with one in a row," he says.