By the time they had limped off the field in Astana last night, with their body language that of a beaten and bedraggled team, ?¨all they could do for comfort was reach out for thoughts of Glasgow.
European nights, the floodlights, massive crowds: that cocktail has propelled Celtic to some stirring feats over the years, most recently the humbling of Barcelona nine months ago, and now there are 20 million reasons why they are going to have to produce some fresh alchemy.
All we have heard about Shakhter Karagandy for the past 12 days is how limited, agricultural and one-dimensional this mob from the comical land of Borat were, and how happy they were to simply share a stage with Celtic before scuttling off to the Europa League.
In a football sense, there was no disguising their limitations, yet they delivered a display of passion and purpose which amounted to throwing a bucket of iced water in Celtic's face.
Every time they counter-attacked, the crowd and the decibel levels rose. It was impossible to ignore how the charged atmosphere galvanised these players carrying the flag for Kazakhstan.
No club from that country has made it this far, let alone reached the group stages of the Champions League. Shakhter had the look of men with a cause, playing on adrenalin. In truth they did exactly the sort of number on Celtic that Celtic themselves have done on Barcelona, AC Milan, Manchester United and others.
Celtic made more than twice as many passes. They had more than two-thirds of the possession. Neither statistic counts for much because they had nothing to show for them.
Besides, it was already known Victor Kumykov would set his team out to absorb pressure and hit on the break. They did that to devastating effect because Celtic's defending and concentration were not good enough to survive at this level.
This was not an ambush by an unknown threat. Celtic knew that they were up against a team with ?¨a dangerous long throw. So what happened? Gediminais Vicius hurled one into the area and it was flicked on to the six-yard box, where none ?¨of Joe Ledley, Georgios Samaras, Charlie Mulgrew or Emilio Izaguirre thought to pick up the run of ?¨Andrei Finonchenko. Basic stuff.
For the second, Izaguirre gave the ball away and sauntered back as if wondering what the meal would be on the flight home. Scott Brown did not show enough urgency either. When Steven Mouyokolo cushioned yet another soft header into the path of a Shakhter attacker Celtic were ?¨in trouble. Vicius's shot struck Adam Matthews and fell for Sergei Khiznichenko to bury a header.
Mouyokolo and Virgil van Dijk were like a re-enactment society ?¨of Celtic defenders past. It was ?¨like watching one of those horror ?¨shows when Gary Caldwell, Daniel Majstorovic, Jos Hooiveld or Glenn Loovens were exposed.
Neither looked comfortable or commanding. Neither looked happy dealing with the physicality of Khiznichenko ?¨nor the buzzing, eager Finonchenko. Shakhter's formation was doggedly defensive - 5-4-1 at home - but it was those two attacking players who dictated the outcome.
Celtic are not in the market for central defenders as both Mouyokolo and Van Dijk have only just arrived. Individually they have looked encouraging so far but last night invited a sobering reassessment. The pair of them have work to do, as has Lennon on the training ground.
Playing Van Dijk was a gamble and goes down as an error of judgement. The Dutchman had previously had just 13 minutes of competitive action and it showed. Mouyokolo and Van Dijk may well keep a clean sheet in the return leg but if Celtic salvage this tie and make it into the group stage the question remains: is it a partnership good enough to face the best in Europe? As for Izaguirre: he defended as though half asleep.
It need hardly be said Celtic can turn the tie around. Kris Commons struck the bar but more encouraging was Samaras' header, the Izaguirre opening, and the James Forrest chance which went unconverted. For each, Shakhtar were opened up. Celtic can expect similar chances at Parkhead and Stas Pokatilov's nervy goalkeeping demands he is worked far, far more in the second leg.
Some teams are lions at home and lambs when they travel. There was a sense that all of Khazakhstan was providing electricity to charge Shakhtar last night. They'll have to do it all on their own in Glasgow. They won't be sacrificing any sheep in the tunnel at Parkhead.
Celtic will surely defend more convincingly, create more chances and perhaps take one, two or more of them. It is easy to imagine them scoring a couple of unanswered goals, at least, over 90 minutes. There are echoes of Artmedia Bratislava in 2005 when a 0-5 capitulation was followed by an 4-0 win in the second leg. Compared to five, a two-goal deficit is nothing.
But the worrying thing was this: Shakhtar Karagandy looked like an unfancied team playing and winning on adrenalin. And Celtic, of all clubs, know exactly how powerful that can be.