INVERNESS has rarely been mistaken for Barcelona, not even on a good day. Brendan Rodgers will discover as much for himself today. Fresh from their humbling experience in the Nou Camp in midweek, Rodgers will take Celtic to the Highlands hoping the area’s fabled restorative qualities can help sooth his suffering players. It will be his first time in the city and he is enthused by the novelty of it all.

“No, I have never been there before,” he said. “It is a nice journey up so we will get a good look at it on the coach for three and a half hours! Inverness will be a very different challenge for us, a great challenge. Coming off the back of [an eventful] week, it will be three different types of games for us. But you have to be relentless. When you are a champion you have to bounce back.”

Celtic used to be vulnerable in the immediate aftermath of a European game but not of late. The statistics bear that out: not since October 2014 - when Hamilton snuck away from Parkhead with their first win there since the pre-war era - have Celtic followed a Champions League or Europa League tie by losing their next league game. If Caley Thistle had been hoping that Rodgers’ side would be susceptible following their 7-0 loss in Barcelona then history suggests the opposite may well be true.

“Hopefully we can do the same as we have been after European games recently and get a good result,” said James Forrest, the Celtic winger set to make his 200th appearance for the club. “We have to make sure we don't give people something else to talk about.”

Celtic, then, have no plans of neglecting their domestic commitments even if restoring their Champions League reputation may be a harder obligation to fulfil. Rodgers couldn’t help but laugh as he tried to recall each of Barcelona’s seven goals from the other night and ended up getting understandably mixed up. A proud man, only twice in his managerial career has he been on the wrong end of such a heavy pasting and both remain burdensome memories.

“I’ve only had two [defeats like that] in my life,” he said. “There was a 7-0 when I first took over at the youth team at Reading as academy director. I took over a system that was changing, that was ready to change. But it was my first youth team game and we lost 7-0. John Sutton scored four goals, I’ll never forget it. He was playing for Tottenham. He might not remember it but I do.

“They were a million miles ahead of us. That was my first feeling of a 7-0 and I didn’t like it. The only other result I’ve had in professional sport anywhere near that was the last game of the [2014/15] season against Stoke [when Liverpool lost 6-1]. That was bad. Once we had got knocked out the semi-final of the cup the team’s motivation was difficult. But apart from that I’ve never had teams that’s happened to.”

John Collins, Celtic’s erstwhile assistant manager, got himself in a pickle in the past for suggesting his players weren’t been given enough of a challenge domestically to adequately prepare them for Europe. Rodgers was more diplomatic but admitted a large chasm had to be negotiated each time he takes his squad into the Champions League arena.

“It’s very tough. It’s [a situation] where you’re going from being a team of dominance, having 60 or 70 per cent of the ball, sometimes more. Then it’s inverted. It’s totally the other way, especially in a game like that [against Barcelona]. The hard thing was watching and knowing what was happening, I knew what they were doing. I’ve had Swansea, Liverpool and Celtic teams doing this to opponents.

"I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a clock for as long in a game in my life! So of course it was tough. But that jump is huge. [English] Premier League teams going into that level have players on £120,000 a week who still suffer. The reality is if they’re on that money and playing at that level it’s because they’re top players. With all due respect if you look at guys coming out here on £2000 or £3000 a week playing against players of that level, we have to be realistic. But I know it hurts.”

It was not a good week for those keen to advance the case that the champions qualifying route for smaller nations deserves to stay in place as part of any Champions League redesign. As well as Celtic, there were heavy defeats for Legia Warsaw, the Polish champions, and Rostov, runners-up in the Russian league last year. But Rodgers was adamant that each deserved their place.

“I understand the modern game is very much financial driven and when you know that the superpowers of Spain, Germany and Italy are worried about what's happening in England, then of course it's difficult. But football’s for all and having experienced it coming from the Premier League up to here, and having experienced what the players go through here, Celtic have had to earn the right to be in that competition. It wasn't a freebie.

“Sometimes it gets downplayed, what it actually takes for clubs in Scotland to qualify. And probably I was maybe ignorant to that, working in the south and in the Premier League. But when you actually see how you have to earn your place in the Champions League, then if you win your league domestically and you can qualify over six really tough games, then you deserve to be there.”