IT’S all well and good talking the talk. But when it came right down to it, it was Callum McGregor and Celtic who walked the walk.

The Celtic captain had refused to bite on the comments made by Rangers attacker Fashion Sakala during the build-up to the Viaplay Cup Final, when he referred to Celtic as ‘the other mob’ and claimed that Rangers would show at Hampden Park why they were the better team and, indeed, the better club.

Instead, McGregor set about simply sinking his teeth into the midfield battle, and after taking a grip on the game early on, he very seldom let go.

From the opening few seconds of the game, the Celtic midfield appeared to have time and space on the ball, and everything was going through McGregor.

The Rangers central three of John Lundstram, Glen Kamara and Malik Tillman were miles off of their direct opponents, with McGregor ably supported by Reo Hatate and Aaron Mooy in ensuring that in the maelstrom of what was a scrappy first half overall, it was Celtic who had at least a measure of control.

The fact that Rangers manager Michael Beale decided to swap out his entire midfield just after the hour told you everything you needed to know about Celtic’s dominance in that crucial area, and why by that point in the contest, Celtic were two goals to the good.

The first goal had been coming, with Kyogo passing up a couple of decent openings before a typically incisive move down the Celtic left allowed Mooy to play Greg Taylor in, and while Daizen Maeda wafted a leg at it and missed, Kyogo was on hand to tap home.

The second goal though was similar in its construction, and was sparked by McGregor. He drove through the challenges of two Rangers players before feeding Mooy, who helped it on to Hatate. He got his head up to find compatriot Kyogo between the posts once more to finish from close range.

It was the culmination of the tone McGregor had set since the resumption of the game after the interval. He had roared to skies above Hampden after making a block on a Borna Barisic cross, then snapped into a tackle on Ryan Kent to signal to his teammates it was time to keep their foots on the throats of their opponents.

Indeed, the game looked all over bar the shouting when that second Kyogo strike hit the back of the net, and Celtic will be livid at the manner of the goal they conceded to allow Rangers to finally get a foothold in the game just after the hour.

Alistair Johnston was penalised for a handball on the Celtic right as he attempted to block a Barisic cross, and Ange Postecoglou’s men made a hash of defending the set-piece. James Tavernier’s cross to the back post wasn’t dealt with decisively, allowing Alfredo Morelos to scramble home and inject some life back into the contest.

After cajoling Celtic into a position of dominance, they now needed their skipper to steady the ship, though even he gave away the ball for perhaps the first time in the game to give Rangers substitute Todd Cantwell a chance to run at the Celtic box.

If that was surprising, it was less of a shock to see McGregor haring back himself to atone for his rare error, getting back goal side to snuff out the counter attack.

When McGregor was made Celtic captain, succeeding Scott Brown, the only doubts around his suitability for the role centred upon his ability to lead in difficult moments such as these.

The way he conducted himself as a player and as a professional would no doubt mean his example alone would take people with him, but when the pressure was on, would his unassuming, almost quiet demeanour be suited to pulling his teammates through the fire?

He has answered those questions and more.

As the clock ticked over the 90-minute mark, a good old fashioned stramash ensued after a poor Kent tackle on the breaking Celtic substitute Tomoki Iwata. As tempers threatened to boil over, McGregor emerged with the ball in hand, restoring order and ensuring that the Celtic focus was firmly back on seeing out the closing moments.

Sead Haksabanovic and Matt O’Riley both could have eased those nervy closing minutes on the break, and Haksabanovic missed a second glorious chance when clean through at the death, but it mattered not.

It would be McGregor who would get his hands on the cup, just as he has now done with three of the four domestic trophies he has contested as Celtic captain. A ratio that will soon improve further still.

Kyogo’s double – his second in consecutive League Cup Finals – was of course worth its weight in gold. But when it came to setting the tone, controlling the game and ultimately steering Celtic to their latest piece of silverware, McGregor was priceless.

And when it comes to making your point, he showed beyond doubt it is better to do so on the field of play, rather than on the back pages.