CELTIC landed in Austria last night, approximately an hour before the SPFL’s final adjudication on those disputed Betfred Cup semi-finals did. Little wonder then that the pre-amble to a Europa League encounter against an unbeaten Red Bull Salzburg (plain old FC Salzburg for Uefa purposes) which could be one of the red-letter days of their season to date suddenly seemed to become something of a footnote.

It will be different no doubt when these two sides who share lofty ambitions but limited TV markets take to the field at the Red Bull Arena (Stadion Salzburg for Uefa purposes) at 5.55pm UK time, but last night everyone wanted to talk to Brendan Rodgers about pretty much everything but the match itself.

Let’s start with semi-final gate, and the Northern Irishman’s parting shot on that matter. While five members of Celtic’s squad played ‘home’ matches at Murrayfield in the early part of the club’s 2014-15 continental campaign under Ronny Deila, Rodgers reckons that is hardly the same as the Hearts players who played home matches there as recently as last season while Tynecastle’s main stand was under construction.

The Northern Irishman insists he would be happy to play anywhere, but questioned whether the venue could be seen to be ‘neutral’ in any sense of the word and called for greater transparency from the SPFL board when it comes to deciding which games go where in the future.

“They [the SPFL] complicate it, don’t they?” said Rodgers. “To be honest, I don’t really mind where I play. But … if you are going to change it, be transparent with it and be fair with it. I don’t think you can just assume that ‘right okay, Murrayfield, well Celtic will just go there and play Hearts. I don’t think that is fair.

“Like I say, I’m happy to play anywhere and it’s a lovely pitch at Murrayfield from what I see and what I’ve been told. But I think for supporters and for clubs and for players and for everyone, transparency is important. It’s an easy one. If Murrayfield is an option and so is Hampden, it’s just a draw. Then nobody can complain. It’s not neutral. You have to plan, you have to anticipate, that’s the key to it all. I respect it’s unique but if you plan forward there is good chance you might come across this scenario. It’s the same as players in a game - it’s about anticipating. If you can anticipate things happening in a game you can relieve a bit of the pressure.”

Next on the sundry list of domestic topics intruding upon Rodgers’ world view last night was the decision by the SFA compliance officer to offer Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna a two-match ban for a challenge on Odsonne Edouard which strangely went unpunished by referee Bobby Madden last weekend. Rodgers felt McKenna – a transfer target for Celtic in August – should have been booked. Facing a two-match ban for it, McKenna may now wish he had been. “I just think at the time it looked a reckless challenge,” said Rodgers. “He [McKenna] is a big honest boy. He plays strong and aggressive and hard. But that one there was reckless challenge. I felt it was a booking at the time. It looked pretty clear to me at the time but maybe Bobby had a player in front of him and wasn’t able to see it properly. Sometimes it’s just the speed of it also.”

While the recipient of that tackle, Edouard, is fit to play tonight – giving his manager another dilemma between him and Leigh Griffiths - the day’s other shock news was the fact plenty of notable Celtic players either aren’t or might not be. If the fact Tom Rogic didn’t travel may open up a slot for weekend goal hero Scott Sinclair, even more concerning is the fact that captain Scott Brown didn’t train yesterday with a hamstring problem and has emerged as a major doubt. That could mean a European debut for the club for Youssuf Mulumbu.

Europa League semi-finalists only last year, Salzburg are Celtic’s Austrian equivalents, only with more current domestic success. They have gone 16 matches unbeaten – two draws against Crvena Zvevda was their version of AEK Athens in Champions League qualifying – and currently lead the Austrian league by nine points. While they may not have the attacking firepower of the PSG side who embarrassed Celtic 7-1 in Paris last season, the Northern Irishman hinted Celtic could employ a more cautious counter-attacking outlook than we have seen at times. Seven clean sheets in eight matches have helped kick them out of a patchy start to the campaign.

“It’s going to be a real battle,” said Rodgers. “We’re at a level now where we’re playing against very good teams. Away from home in particular you’ve got to ensure that you’re super tight, super compact. It’s also about being dangerous with your possession. This is the big change for us. In a lot of our games, there are very few teams where we’re having to set up in a compact shape and get the ball worked around the field to give you the chance to move. So it’s a totally different style when you come against these teams. That’s why I think it’s hard for Scottish players to adjust.

“They [Salzburg] should be [frustrated they are not in the Champions League],” he added. “Being 2-0 in your home leg in the last qualification game to lose two goals and go out on away goals, you’d be bitterly disappointed. You only have to look at last season. They almost got to the Europa League Final. They are a very, very good team and are winning lots of games.

“But there is no doubt the flexibility in our movement is coming back again. Look, we haven’t come flying out of the blocks by any means, but the dynamic is getting better, and the intensity in our game.”