THE occasion was orchestrated so perfectly you might have thought Karl Rove or Alastair Campbell was behind it. The headline moment arrived after 65 minutes, when Kris Commons, the scorer of two of the goals which meant this match was already comfortably won, once again saw the number 15 flash up on the substitutes' board. Instead of the histrionics which occurred in the Aker Stadium in Molde, this time it was high fives and hugs all round, as Commons in turn gladhanded manager Ronny Deila, then his assistant coaches John Collins and John Kennedy. It was as if Molde had never happened.

It did, though. And while a sense of normalcy appeared to return to Celtic Park yesterday, in reality things may never be exactly the same again. The so-called Ronny Roar appears to have been cancelled until further notice, perhaps also on the advice of the Parkhead spin doctors. Just as Mixu Paatelainen's United side will not be defined by their performances against Celtic, Deila knows routine home wins against the bottom side in the Ladbrokes Premiership are no longer sufficient to silence the doubters. The concerns over his position will remain in a grim holding pattern until he can take care of a tricky-looking League Cup trip to Tynecastle in midweek, a home league meeting with rivals Aberdeen then the three remaining Europa League matches which will define their continental destiny.

While it would be a mistake to automatically extrapolate the actions of the diehards who showered him, his backroom staff and selected players with abuse in Norway on Thursday night with the wider Celtic support, visitors to the East End of Glasgow wasted little time in making their positions clear. Unsurprisingly it was the name of Commons, wisely kept in the line-up at the first time of asking following his midweek strop - the sore would have festered otherwise - which was afforded a pre-match roar, while that of Ronny received only the merest smattering of cricket applause. Perhaps there were sighs of relief in both the boardroom and the technical area when the Green Brigade kept their sights trained on the government, rather than anything that transpired on Thursday night. 'Police State, Brought to you by the SNP,' their banner read.

Commons, in fact, even got the nod in his favoured role off the front, with Stefan Johansen shunted back alongside Scott Brown to accommodate him. For Celtic fans, there were two other heartening sights: Carlton Cole was formally paraded as a Celtic player beforehand, while Jozo Simunovic strolled through what was both his home debut and league debut, following more than a month out with an ankle problem, even venturing forward like Virgil van Dijk to fire in a few long rangers.

United arrived in Glasgow as the worst team the Ladbrokes Premiership had to offer and thoroughly lived up to that billing. With one league win all season, Mixu Paatelainen's side attempted to get men behind the ball to the extent that it took fully 13 minutes before they had any meaningful possession in their opponent's half of the field. It seemed only a matter of time until Celtic would make the breakthrough and that time was 17 minutes. Mark Durnan assumed a through pass from Scott Brown was running through to his goalkeeper but Leigh Griffiths had other ideas. The man who accused the club's boo boys of going "over the top" in Norway on Thursday night was on it in a flash and his finish from the narrowest of angles was a thing of beauty. He celebrated by running towards the dug-out and past Deila and his backroom staff to mark the moment with sub goalkeeper Logan Bailly, but he too would be high fiving the coaching staff by the end.

If Commons, predictably, would grab the headlines, perhaps the real man of the moment yesterday was an 18-year-old from the Isle of Man. If the Deila project is about anything, it is about developing players and the Norwegian has been championing Kieran Tierney almost since his arrival. That faith paid off yesterday in a match which saw this game little left back scampering down the flank so frequently his calves and hamstrings had all but given up on him by the end. When John Souttar illegally halted one run, Gary Mackay-Steven levered over the free-kick and Dedryck Boyata - another man who played yesterday with a comfort level which bellied his mistake-strewn evening in Molde - bulleted in a header which Luis Zwick couldn't keep out.

Tierney's next burst saw him brought crashing to earth again, by Scott Fraser this time - for a penalty rather than a foul. Anticipation rose around the ground as Commons stepped up, and reached a crescendo when he lashed the ball into the top corner.

The first Finnish ear-bashing of the afternoon did little to improve United's performance in the second period. Mackay-Steven clattered a post within seconds, before Commons brought the house down in trademark fashion, tip-toeing in off the right before lashing in a left foot drive which nearly loosened the net from its moorings.

Commons and Griffiths left the fray but Celtic - reportedly considering a US franchise club - kept on into overtime. Tierney was a foot away from getting the goal his performance deserved before Brown forced in the fifth, still having the energy to dance away down the left and fire in a close range shot which went down as an own goal by Aaron Kuhl. High fives all round, you might say.

Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Ambrose, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Johansen; Mackay-Steven, Commons (Rogic 65), Armstrong (McGregor 73); Griffiths (Ciftci 65).

Subs not used: Bailly, Blackett, Bitton, Lustig

Dundee United (4-2-3-1): Zwick; J Souttar, McGowan, Durnan, Dillon; Kuhl, Rankin; Telfer (Murray 65) Fraser (Connolly 90), Bodul (Taggart 55); McKay

Subs not used: Szromnick, Donaldson, H Souttar, Dobson

Booked: Celtic: Simunovic 72. Dundee United: Fraser 45

Referee: C Thomson