IT was a pretty grand setting, at least from the outside, that greeted Brendan Rodgers and his players ahead of his first game in charge - not to mention the travelling press pack.

A picturesque 45-minute drive from Maribor to Celje took us across sweeping green hills and fields and through mountain tunnels before we eventually arrived at the Arena Petrol.

At this stage of the season, seeing a modern, glass-fronted stadium and complex was a pleasant surprise for all concerned. Bars and restaurants outside, even two hours before kick off, were beginning to build up with fans.

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There seemed a genuine excitement among the Celje supporters for this game, even if only a thousand or so of them turned up. It was also nice to see a small band of Celtic supporters make their way over to see Rodgers' first game in charge.HeraldScotland:

As for the game, it was about as much as you could have expected for a pre-season friendly played on a patchy pitch in difficult conditions. It was absolutely roasting. The athletes in the press box were suffering in the searing Slovenian sunshine, so spare a thought to those on the park.

Even though there were two Celtic teams fielded over the 90 minutes, there were clear signs that this era will be far different from the one under Ronny Deila. The first half was perhaps slower than Rodgers would have wished for - the hot conditions couldn't have helped - but the second period was full of energy, high tempo and purposeful running.

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The highlight for Celtic must be the performance of players who last season were on the periphery under the Norwegian. Scott Allan and Ryan Christie seem to have a solid understanding of each others' game. Throughout the first half the pair worked together with a host of one-twos, providing great link up play with Leigh Griffiths in attack and James Forrest on the left, who seemed to show plenty of willing despite the question mark over his future.

Stefan Johansen was also a major plus point. The midfielder seemed a bit of a lost soul last campaign after setting the heather on fire in his first year, but he appeared back to his best. With him free to speak to clubs in January, Rodgers will surely be monitoring his form closely.

After the game there seemed a real positivity over the performance from the Celtic manager, and rightly so. His team in phases were excellent.

The temperature is soaring here again today. A light training session at the Maribor base will surely be on the cards.

In the town, things are continuing to build ahead of the final night of the Lent Festival tomorrow. More parades, shows and music are planned for tonight. A quiet night ahead, then.