LIVING up to your own high standards can be an onerous task.

It is something that Molde, fresh from completing the Norwegian league and cup double for the first time in their history last season, are discovering as they cling onto the Europa League as their one, last hope of salvation from a year of deep, damaging disappointments.

They are 21 points behind Tippeligaen leaders Rosenborg in seventh place after 26 fixtures. Their head coach, Tor Ole Skullerud, was sacked in August. It is not what was expected from a club that set out with ambitions of securing a fourth championship in five campaigns.

That is what can happen when you set the bar so high, though. It is something that will not be lost on the Celtic midfielder, Stefan Johansen, when he faces his homeland's fallen champions this week.

Johansen was named Norway's Player of the Year last term and picked up similar gongs from his peers within PFA Scotland and the support base of his current club. Given current form, he is going to have to go some to retain those particular titles.

He has been a shadow of his former self in recent months. There has been little consistency to his play and he was dropped, most unusually, for last month's goalless draw with Hearts at Parkhead.

He has been troubled with a back problem for some time, which seems no closer to being effectively treated, and that remains a matter of concern for Ronny Deila.

The Celtic manager holds an unwavering belief in his abilities, though. Johansen will remain one of the key creative forces in his team. It is just a matter of time, it seems, before normal service is resumed.

"You know what you get with Stefan all the time and that's 100 per cent hard work," stated Deila.

"In my eyes, he is a winner. When you see him play for Norway, he is the leader in the team.

"He dictates what's going on. He is 24 years old and he has a long career ahead of him. It's just that, when you play 70 games, you have dips all the time.

"It's my task to get him back to the level he can be as quickly as possible.

"He has had troubles with his back since the pre-season and it is something we have to get better. He has played, but he has had issues.

"He does everything in training and is in a much better situation now, but he had a knock on his neck against Fenerbahce and that's why he didn't play in the next game against Hamilton.

"He was back in Norway again last week and he played in both of their games against Malta and Italy. He should do well now in this period."

For all the respect that Johansen commands, though, it is only natural that Deila will inhabit centre stage in the build-up to Thursday evening's encounter in the Aker Stadium.

His project at Celtic remains a matter of interest in his homeland. He lifted Stromsgodset from relegation contenders to league champions for the first time in 43 years over six remarkable seasons before leaving for Glasgow in the summer of 2014 and his ability to maintain standards is under examination too.

The 40-year-old insists his focus on overcoming a mixed opening to the campaign at Celtic, however, will insulate him from the inevitable hype that accompanies his return on competitive business.

"It's just another game," he said. "Games are coming all the time.

"You play in Milan against Inter and you play in Amsterdam against Ajax and you just go to work and go back again.

"You are in that bubble to perform. I just hope we can have a smile on the plane back."

If Celtic are in the midst of a difficult campaign, mind you, it is nothing compared to their next opponents.

Erling Moe came in as interim manager in the wake of Skullerud's departure and convinced former players Thomas Mork and Tronde Strande to step up from more junior roles within the club as first-team coaches.

Their appointments continue to be temporary despite a particularly impressive display in their opening Group A fixture, a 3-1 win over Fenerbahce in Istanbul. A home draw with Ajax currently has them top of the table.

"It's good for Norwegian football as it shows it is going in the right direction, but I also know it is possible to beat them," said Deila.

It certainly is. Things have picked up domestically, but they remain vulnerable with Stromsgodset and Stabaek, admittedly second and third in the league, ensuring they have lost two of their last three Tippeligaen matches.

"Last year, they won the double and had the best season ever in their history," explained Deila. "Then, they had two or three injuries at the start of the season, so were a bit unlucky. Plus, it is tough to do it again. Everybody wants to beat them."

It will be made even more testing should Celtic commit some of the defensive errors that have blighted their European ambitions. Over and above a rush of blood to the head from Efe Ambrose, set-pieces have been a sore point from Malmo to Ajax to Fenerbahce.

"I think we defended quite well against Ajax and Fenerbahce," insisted Deila. "The first goal against Ajax was very good play and the second goal came after we got a red card.

"Against Fenerbahce, everyone saw what happened. There were maybe just two chances.

"It's about knowing, in Europe, that you have to be very disciplined. You get punished hard when you make easy mistakes.

"Overall, I think we have done quite well defensively and we have scored four goals also."

The astroturf surface at the Aker Stadium will also pose particular challenges.

"It is a different type of game, a different way to play football, so, absolutely, it's to their advantage," said Mikael Lustig, the Celtic right-back.

"They have a lot of young good technical players, guys who want to keep the ball on the ground. It is not like the old Norwegian way of playing long balls."