CELTIC have been playing monopoly with Scottish domestic football these last three years. With their domestic dominance currently stretching to nine trophies and counting, the club’s rivals will be telling themselves it is a run which to end sometime - as much as Neil Lennon would dearly love to finally complete his own personal trio of trophies for the first time by moving the club onto an outlandish quadruple treble this season.

No-one knows how the Northern Irishman’s mind works better than Johan Mjallby, his former team-mate who was with Lennon every step of the way as assistant manager during his previous stint at the club, a four-year period where the fates seemed to conspire against Lennon and his team in the cup competitions.

Make it past Ian McCall’s Partick Thistle tomorrow and Celtic will have booked another Hampden semi-final, and will be favourites to make it ten-in-a-row in terms of trophies.

While he accepts the arrival of Brendan Rodgers has changed the rules of the game, Mjallby feels that landing the first trophy of the campaign will be important for the message it sends out to Steven Gerrard’s Rangers than anything else.

“The Celtic fans want this trophy haul to continue until eternity but that’s unheard of,” said Mjallby. “The Scottish Premiership will always be the priority and then the Scottish Cup.

“The Betfred Cup is maybe more important to Rangers right now for confidence and to prove they are on the right track to become proper challengers,” he added. “But it’s important when you play for the Old Firm that you have to try and win every trophy. You don’t play friendlies. But it won’t make any difference who wins the first cup in terms of how the rest of the season pans out.

“Neil will put himself under a lot of pressure because he’s stepped into the shoes of a manager who did incredibly well domestically so it’s a tough task,” he added.

“But he looks at the bigger picture and knows it’s all about the league in a way. That’s the prize he really wants to make sure they have another go in the Champions League next season.

“He’s put a lot of trust in these guys who have been used to winning all these trophies to make sure the new guys understand how important it is to continue this run. I’m talking about guys like Scott Brown, Callum McGregor and the guys who have been there for a number of seasons.”

Having witnessed the calamity against Cluj earlier in the season, Mjallby was pleasantly surprised to see how comfortable Celtic were at Ibrox. With the likes of Christopher Jullien, Boli Bolingoli, Fraser Forster, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Moritz Bauer now proving their worth, he feels the club’s work during the transfer window will go down as an important period.

“Neil isn’t daft so he knows if you don’t qualify for the Champions League and lost to Cluj in the manner they did then you expect criticism,” said Mjallby. “But when we look back at the transfer window it was successful and they were clever and shrewd so the squad is strong with ones for the future.

“I was surprised in a way at how comfortable Celtic won the Old Firm game,” he added. “It was great following the build-up and watch Celtic live in a couple of games before that as I was in Scotland. A lot of people think Rangers will go all the way this time and for me it’s the first time in years they are a proper challenger to Celtic.

“There were a question marks before the game over Christopher Jullien and Boli Bolingoli but that game did them the world of good because they were allowed to sit in and defend and they did it comfortably,” he added. “But it’s far too early to talk about who is going to win the league. Celtic are in the driving seat but we’re only six games in.”

Another centre half now benefiting from games who Mjallby knows well is £3.5m Rangers new boy Filip Helander. “Filip is a steady centre half who reads the game well,” said Mjallby. “He’s done well for Sweden when he’s played and he’s been in Italy for a number of years. He’s probably not the quickest but he’s steady, good in the air and decent on the ball without being really pacy. He’s quite aggressive and he’ll definitely be suited to Scottish football.”

Like Lennon and Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell, Mjallby passed on his respects to his former rival Fernando Ricken, who passed away last week aged 43. The pair got sent off for a bust-up in the back of a net during the Old Firm game at Celtic Park. “We had a wee bit of a bust-up,” recalled Mjallby. “I was going for a 50-50 with Stefan Klos who probably had the ball when I got to him. Fernando gave me one when I was lying down so I tried to chase him and find him in the crowd of players. Seriously, though, he was a great player – and what happened is just so sad. When you’ve played against each other in these games, you have real respect for each other.”

***Johan Mjallby was speaking at the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup draw. The Gold Cup takes place on Saturday 21st September at 3:50pm