IT began with the forging of the SPL and SFL. Seven trophies were handed down to Celtic, one to Rangers. Within these pieces of silverware was bound the will to lord it over rivals for 12-month periods. But they were both of them deceived, for another trophy was being forged. Deep in the land of UEFA, in the fires of Nyon, Aleksander Ceferin forged a master title, and into this Champions League trophy he poured money, money, and more money.

One cup to rule them all…

Between all the talk of a domestic treble for Ange Postecoglou and the incessant prologuing of the King’s coronation on the television, I was in the mood for epic, long-winded trilogies set in mythological times. Having dusted down the DVD player in the domicile and eked out the hallowed Lord of the Rings (Extended Version) box set from my stone-of-destiny-styled window seat in the bedroom, I must have fallen asleep – as is my custom – before the opening monologue had even commenced. The 10-hour-long tour de force of battles won and lost, bizarre pageantry and rituals, and great assortments of glorious and grotesque beings could again just as easily be applied to both the Scottish football season and the upcoming coronation, but we digress. Was a premonition being forged in that reverie?

Since the merging of the old Scottish Premier League with the Scottish Football League back in 2013, the year after Rangers were thrown into the fires of Mount Doom after their financial collapse, Celtic have utterly dominated the domestic football landscape. Seven titles will soon become eight over that period – indeed, they may be crowned this coronation weekend when they travel to Tynecastle to face Hearts on Sunday – with the decadent touch of a potential fifth treble in seven years very much within their grasp, having put Rangers to the sword in the Scottish Cup semi-final last weekend.

But there was one other title delivered during the Premiership period, when Rangers rose from the ashes and returned to a throne they hadn’t held since that 2012 demise. Uncontented to allow this resurgence to continue, Celtic axed Neil Lennon during that ill-fated 2020/21 season during his second reign as manager (a somewhat alternate ending to The Return of the King) and brought in the relatively unknown figure of Ange Postecoglou from the Far East lands of J-League soccer. There will no doubt be an Elvish translation of the legend of Ange and the impact the Greek-Australian has had on the Parkhead club, such has been the magnitude of the turnaround since his arrival.

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After returning to the throne of Scottish football with a league and cup double last term, Postecoglou has the chance to go one better this season. But what comes next will determine whether the manager’s tale is retold for generations to come. After a first Champions League group-stage quest since 2017 this season, now is the time to move up to the next level.

With Ceferin’s all-seeing eye patrolling European football’s elite competition, the current automatic qualification to the group stage for winning the Premiership title feels like a back-staircase entry into the high-security centre of power. This fragile luxury presents a timely opportunity to make some moves towards that metropole where all the riches reside. With each point secured and win on the board in the group stage topping up the financial rewards for qualifying, it is imperative that Celtic improve on the two draws earned against third-place Shakhtar Donetsk this season, with the Ukrainians parachuting into the Europa League play-off and Celtic denied European football after Christmas.

For Postecoglou, the guaranteed shot at Europe’s best sides, the reputation his style of play has garnered, and the success of his dealings in the transfer market to date will all work in the Parkhead club’s favour this summer. Winning titles and playing at the top level in club football is not a difficult sales pitch.

But make no mistake, the coming campaign will be the season the manager is measured by. As bosses’ heads roll in the Premier League more frequently than orcs in the battle for Middle Earth, Postecoglou’s name pops up with increasing regularity as a potential heir. Having made the voyage to the relative periphery of European football’s centre stage in the Scottish Premiership, Postecoglou, who has managed his national side at a World Cup during a two-decade career in management, would not be shy in admitting that he has further ambitions in the dugout. At 57 years old, this wizard of Oz is no Gandalf the Grey; he’s still got plenty of managerial road in front of him. But he’s no elfin spring-chicken either, and at the back of his mind he’ll be keen to get a move on in his quest to fulfil his personal ambitions.

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A treble to follow a double and qualifying from a Champions League group at the second time of asking would demonstrate to potential suitors the sharp progress he has made under the pressure of delivering at a club whose supporters demand such success.

Like his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, who clinched a move to the Premier League at Leicester on the back of all-sweeping domestic success with Celtic, Postecoglou is doing this during a period of unprecedented dominance for the Parkhead club. Progress in the Champions League, that one cup to rule them all, is the only true route to securing immortality with the club’s support, and of convincing the wider footballing world of his abilities. If Postecoglou is to become a Celtic legend and go on to bigger and better things elsewhere, he must make inroads on the continent first.