WITHOUT a Premiership ball having been kicked yet, Celtic’s season is already only two matches away from being made.

Domestic dominance is almost ensured for a team that has not lost a match for 254 days across all competitions (They were beaten 2-0 by Barcelona, the duds…).

In Scotland, that number spirals even further. While a loss will surely come sooner rather than later for this peerless Celtic team, the only talking point ahead of this weekend is who will be the team to see them disappear out of sight last.

Read more: Brendan Rodgers: Celtic won't buy another centre-half

The Scottish champions therefore must look to push the boundaries of progression on a different frontier. Improving on an undefeated domestic treble borders on the impossible, so securing entry into the Champions League group stage for the second year running was always going to be a pre-requisite of a ‘good’ season for Celtic. At the very least European football to Christmas, something that was secured in Norway on Wednesday night with the win over Rosenborg.

Brendan Rodgers, four competitive games into his second year in Glasgow, finds himself approaching the stage that on his maiden term as Celtic manager arguably proved the most testing. Twelve months ago Celtic struggled to get the better of not just Hapoel Be’er Sheva but stifling conditions in Israel during their play-off second leg. One goal away from disaster, Celtic held on to stay on the right side of a fine margin and, as they say, the rest is history. Something the Celtic support know plenty about.

Now here again, there will be no stomachs feeling like tumble driers for the Celtic manager. Instead, there is nothing but confidence that no matter who they are picked to face in today’s draw, that they will have enough to hang them out to dry.

“I’m in a better place now with the team. What we have now is a football idea,” he explained.

Read more: Brendan Rodgers: Celtic won't buy another centre-half

“I expect us to work well now when we play. We went away last year more in hope that mentally we could find a way to get through because tactically we didn’t have the right idea.

“But that was first class against Rosenborg. Everyone made out it was a real pressure game, asking if we could cope, if we could play that way against a big test, but we did well.”

He’s right. Rosenborg may not have offered much, if any, threat to Craig Gordon’s goal on Wednesday, but they were still an organised unit who are midway through their season. To overcome them, Celtic demonstrated a calmness at the Lerkendal Stadium in front of 20,000 fans. Their rhythm was not interrupted, their probing gave not deviated from.

It is all part of the ‘football idea’ Rodgers speaks of that continues to be built upon with each passing game.

“I think you see that and did in Rosenborg,” said the Celtic manager. “You guys were with us on the journey last year from the beginning and we certainly never played anywhere near that level of composure.

“That’s what it is. It’s finding confidence in a style of football and ensuring that when you play against these teams you show that you progress. I was really pleased with the maturity of the performance.

“Each leg goes up but I think some people write it at these are easy games. As far as I’m aware they’re not. You come in to play teams who are halfway through their season. There’s sometimes a feeling that Celtic are expected and should get through. You need to pay a little bit more respect I think to other European countries who are much better than Scottish clubs with all due respect.

Read more: Brendan Rodgers: Celtic won't buy another centre-half

“And two, they are never easy games at this time of the season. The next game will be tough. This was tough, over the two legs we made it looked easy but you have to work well. The games are never easy but that’s okay. We’re getting better.”

Of all of the potential opponents for Celtic in this morning’s draw, none of them will cause many supporters sleepless nights. Qarabag, Astana and Be’er Sheva are all sides who have been beaten in recent years by Celtic sides operating at nowhere near the level of this one, while Slavia Prague and Rijeka of Croatia offer less arduous travelling. No matter what way you look at it, a Parkhead side another couple of games into their season will be favourites no matter who they face.

Last year the Celtic manager spoke of this progression in Europe and of a three-year plan to take this team into the last 16 of the Champions League. Only time will tell in the coming few months if that plan is still on track. However, it’s undeniable that this Celtic team, based on their composure and control shown not just against Rosenborg but away to the likes of Borussia Moenchengladbach and Manchester City, do have the right mentality to make a fair impact on the Europa League if they enter it either now or after finishing third in their Champions League group.

Rodgers admits, though, it’s not a prospect that has popped up on his radar yet.

“I don’t really think so,” he said. “What was important for us was to continue to mature in Europe, it was important to secure European football for the development of the team.

“Of course the highest level we can do it in – the Champions League – is the preference but ultimately we want to improve as a team. That comes with playing against different opponents and top class European clubs.

“[Improving] will come from playing in Europe. These guys are on their way on their journey to be becoming better and it’s great to see as a coach.”

Listen to the Herald Sport podcast: For our Premiership season preview, we ask if anyone can stop Celtic, will Hearts continue to be mince, and are Hamilton Acces finally going to get relegated?

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