Even when they needed a late Charlie Mulgrew goal to scramble a draw against Dundee United on Saturday, there was not a mention about points being dropped in the pursuit of the championship. Last year, when it was still a novelty to have a top division without Rangers, there were half-hearted attempts to talk up the prospect of a challenger emerging who would push Celtic. This year the pretence has been dropped.
Neil Lennon's side will have days like this when they do not play to their best and do not win but they will matter little in the bigger picture. Frankly, there is more chance of Elvis landing on the centre circle at Parkhead in a space rocket then riding Shergar down London Road than there is of Celtic not finishing the season as champions.
Domestic games before Christmas, then, serve as warm-up exercises for their Champions League fixtures. Ahead of Wednesday's match against Ajax, there will be concern about the flatness of the display against United, the wastefulness of the strikers, and moments of sloppy defending that allowed Stuart Armstrong acres of space to meet a delightful through ball from Nadir Ciftci to put United in front late in the first half, and should have led to a second goal for the visitors from Brian Graham midway through the second.
On the plus side, Mulgrew's header ensured that the champions remain unbeaten in the league, while there were positive updates on Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons, with Lennon expecting both to return from injury to start in Amsterdam. The pair should add a spark to a Celtic line-up which lacked creativity on Saturday, while their experience in big games - especially Samaras, who has evolved into something of a European specialist - will also be key.
Many of the points Celtic dropped in the league both last season and this have come in matches preceding or following Champions League games. If slipping up in the game after a big European night is understandable as a result of physical or mental tiredness, then doing so in the match beforehand is harder to explain away.
Perhaps there is an element of players, even subconsciously, playing within themselves to ensure they will be fit for the big game. However, on this occasion Lennon insisted it should be he rather than his players who should carry the can. "I should take the criticism if there's any coming our way because I picked the team," said the manager. "I wanted to use the squad for this game, with a huge game on Wednesday. I made four or five changes, which isn't ideal, but players need game time."
Scott Brown, the Celtic captain, also dismissed the suggestion that players become distracted when Champions League matches appear on the horizon. "Not in the slightest," he said. "It's just teams come out and press. Dundee United played really well, created chances and they were unlucky. We had a lot of chances and I think it showed our fighting spirit at the end. We didn't play the best but we knew we could take chances when we got them."
Lennon declared himself "very happy" that his team were able to secure a late draw but also admitted his team's profligacy in front of goal was something of a concern. Amido Balde, Anthony Stokes and Teemu Pukki all featured at various points against United but none could find a goal to embroider their otherwise eager performances, wasting several decent goalscoring chances much to the frustration of the home crowd.
A match that will likely be of little consequence for Celtic come the end of the season could have been far more significant for the visitors. United have not won at Celtic Park since Boxing Day 1992, when a Duncan Ferguson goal earned them the points and they may feel they will not get a better opportunity than this to end that long sequence.
They will likely look to the chance missed by Graham after 66 minutes as the turning point, the striker getting himself in a guddle as he looked to redirect Ciftci's cross beyond Fraser Forster for his first United goal. Had that gone in it would have reduced Mulgrew's injury-time header to a consolation.
"I thought it was coming perfectly to me but then it came behind me and I had to try and adjust my feet," he recalled. "By then the chance had gone. After I missed, everything was running through my head - 'I should have done this or that' - but I'm not going to dwell on it."