CELTIC’S domestic performances in the immediate aftermath of their European matches often left rather a lot to be desired during Ronny Deila’s first season in Scotland.

The Parkhead club drew with Dundee away and Motherwell at home and slumped to defeats to Inverness Caledonian Thistle away and, worst of all, Hamilton at home in the wake of Champions League qualifiers and Europa League outings last term.

The fact the Norwegian coach was adapting to football in this country and learning to cope with the considerable demands on him at the Glasgow club had a great deal to do with the difficulties his side experienced.

Nevertheless, Celtic could have been forgiven for approaching their second Ladbrokes Premiership match of the 2015/16 campaign against Partick Thistle at Firhill yesterday with a distinct sense of trepidation as a result of the difficulties they had experienced.

The televised lunchtime meeting with their city rivals came following an intense encounter with FK Qarabag in Azerbaijan on Tuesday night in the third qualifying round of Europe’s premier club competition.

The Scottish champions returned home in fine spirits after drawing the second leg match 0-0 to win 1-0 on aggregate and progress to the play-off stage. However, it required a six-hour flight to get back from Baku.

It was, then, not inconceivable that the physical and mental toll of that intense and draining fixture could, as it did on several occasions last term, have resulted in them failing to deliver in Maryhill.

Scott Brown, their talismanic captain, was absent after suffering a hamstring strain and Stuart Armstrong, their central midfielder, trudged off midway through the first half as the consequence of a niggling groin strain.

Deila publicly chastised himself afterwards for selecting Armstrong in his starting line-up despite his player not being fully fit. His error of judgement highlighted how problematic such fixtures can be for a manager.

Fortunately for him, the paucity of Thistle’s display and two well-taken goals – from Tom Rogic in the first half and Kris Commons in the second – ensured Celtic recorded a comfortable triumph to move to the head of the league table on goal difference.

“It was an important match,” admitted Deila afterwards. “I think the first 35 minutes was maybe the best we have done so far this season. We played fantastic football and were untroubled defensively. If we can continue doing that for longer spells, it is going to be very hard to beat us.

“It was four days later, rather than three, after our game in Europe which was an important thing. But we got a little bit sloppy and maybe a little bit tired as well because we pressed them very hard.

“There are always things you can improve. But we scored two good goals, kept a clean sheet and produced some good football in the first half. They didn’t have one chance, maybe a half chance.”

Indeed, Craig Gordon, the Celtic goalkeeper, had his quietest day at the office in quite some time. The Scotland internationalist had to save a Mathias Pogba attempt with two minutes remaining when all three points had been secured. Before that, he had not been tested by the home team.

Many in Scottish football have tipped Thistle to, along with Hamilton, struggle this season. On the evidence of this poor showing it is easy to see why. They had a penalty claim in the first half. But referee John Beaton and his assistants were correct to ignore it.

Alan Archibald conceded his side had performed poorly and failed to trouble their visitors, but expressed hope that new signing Pogba, the brother of France and Juventus midfielder Paul, will help his charges pose a greater threat in the final third in future.

“We didn’t do enough,” he said. “We didn’t make it a battle and the first 30 minutes were really disappointing. We didn’t retain the ball and make it a battle against Celtic, which we have to do. Our shape was fine, but we gave Celtic too much respect.

“The biggest disappointment was our good players getting on the ball and passing it. We gave the ball away far too much, we didn’t retain possession. That was the frustrating thing.

“In the last 10 minutes of the first half we showed a bit of character and it led to a penalty claim. But we just didn’t do it enough. We got to the second half and they were playing in second gear. We’ve got to do more and give our fans something to cheer about.”

Archibald added: “Pogba gave us something a bit different, you could see their centre-halves were a bit wary of him. He’ll give us something different – we just need to make sure we give him good service. He’s got a bit of quality. We just need to get him fit.”