THE ruthlessness exhibited by Leigh Griffiths, James Forrest, Scott Sinclair and Tom Rogic during Celtic’s meeting with Aberdeen is a quality which is clearly shared by their manager Brendan Rodgers.

The cold-blooded manner with which each member of that quartet buried their chances in the Ladbrokes Premiership match at Parkhead on Saturday ultimately proved the difference between their team and the side which has been their main rivals in the last two seasons.

The final 4-1 scoreline was a tad harsh on Derek McInnes’s players who implemented an astute game plan well and competed resolutely during the course of 90 minutes which were an excellent advertisement for Scottish football.

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Had Niall McGinn or Graeme Shinnie showed greater composure in the final third during the second half when only a goal separated the combatants then the outcome of the match could have been quite different.

In Adam Rooney, who levelled the match with a volley midway through the first half, McInnes certainly has a clinical finisher at his disposal. But Rodgers, whose side moved clear at the top of the division with the win despite having a game in hand, has individuals with predatory instincts throughout his side. They should retain their title comfortably because of that.

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The Irishman can also be cut-throat himself when he needs to be. Dropping his goalkeeper Craig Gordon just days after his penalty save against Hapeol Be’er Sheva in Israel had helped to secure qualification for the Champions League group stages was the act of a man who is clearly unafraid to make difficult decisions when he feels he has to.

Rodgers understands the harsh realities of top level management from his spells in charge of Watford, Reading, Swansea City and Liverpool and knows there can be no room for sentimentality if he is to flourish in his current position. By replacing Gordon, who was named Scottish Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year two seasons ago and was involved in his biggest accomplishment to date at Celtic, with Dorus de Vries he highlighted that.

Rodgers worked with De Vries, who signed a two year deal with Celtic earlier this month, during his hugely successful spell at Swansea and believes he is better placed to perform the sweeper-keeper role so popular in the modern game.HeraldScotland: Celtic goalkeeper Dorus de Vries, left, shakes hands with Leigh Griffiths after the Aberdeen game on Saturday.

The 26 per cent pass completion rate that Gordon recorded in the game against Hapoel was far from impressive. It was the lowest of any keeper involved in the 10 play-off matches last week. His all-round display, too, left much to be desired. Still, that could be said of many in his team. It is a bold move to omit a player with such vast experience, physical presence and shot-stopping capabilities.

De Vries, voted Player of the Season by Nottingham Forest supporters at the end of the 2015/16 campaign, performed competently enough without really by tested. He was favoured by Rodgers due to his familiarity with the system. He will need to excel, though, in all areas to retain his place going forward.

With their next two games being the first league match with Rangers in four years and the opening Champions League game against Barcelona in the Nou Camp, the Dutchman will certainly be tested to the full if he continues to be selected. How he fares in those tests will determine whether Rodgers was right to bring him in.

McInnes, perhaps mindful of the defeats his side suffered on their visits to the East End of Glasgow last season, changed his tactics to suit the opposition. His team alternated between a 3-4-3 formation when they were in possession and a 5-2-3 set-up when the home team had the ball. It worked well for long spells.

With centre backs Mark Reynolds, Anthony O’Connor and Ash Taylor forming the heart of his defence with Andrew Considine and Shay Logan on either side of them Aberdeen proved hard to break down.

It took a stunning strike from Griffiths, who nutmegged Kenny McLean before rifling a powerful left foot shot into the top right corner from outside the box, and some fine work by the exceptional Rogic, who teed up Forrest for his goal, to undo them in the first half.

The Aberdeen players were aggrieved at the penalty Bobby Madden awarded Celtic when Sinclair, who took the spot kick himself and netted confidently, went down following a challenge by Reynolds, who was sent off. There was little they could do when Rogic curled in a long-range free-kick at the death to cap his Man of the Match-winning display.

Rooney was adamant the heavy defeat would not prevent Aberdeen, who look, on the evidence of the opening games of the season, a far better bet than Rangers to finish second, from launching a challenge for the Premiership once again. He is hopeful the rest the majority of the players will get during the international break will lead to improved form.

“It gives us a few days off to recover,” he said. “We have been in since the start of June. It will give us a bit of chance to regroup after the Europa League. We will get some fresh legs. You could see late on on Saturday that it was tiring out there. We will look forward to the break.

"We certainly know Celtic are a good side. They were a good side last season and they are going to be a good side this season. But I think we have shown improvements on last season again. We will focus on ourselves."