A couple of years ago, Hearts famously got Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic reign off to an ignominious start by winning 2-1 in his first Premiership match in charge of the club. It seems that Celtic took that personally.

Since that soaking night in Gorgie back in July 2021, Celtic have rattled off nine successive wins against Hearts, scoring 24 goals in the process and conceding just eight. And while Tynecastle long ago cemented its place as one of the venues in Scotland most referenced as ‘a difficult place to go’, four of those wins have come in Edinburgh.

When Celtic travel to face Hearts once more on Sunday, they will do so with the fewest number of fans since Postecoglou’s debut, when the slowly easing Covid-19 restrictions still limited the total attendance to 5,500.

The decision by Hearts to look after their own first and foremost and limit Celtic’s allocation to just 576 has predictably drawn criticism from fans of the Glasgow club, but will a lack of backing at the venue make their team’s task any more difficult?

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It certainly didn’t hamper them when they had no fans at all at Ibrox recently, the sound of Kyogo Furuhashi’s winner slapping into the back of the net amplified by the silence from 50,000 Rangers supporters in the stands.

Nor did the first reduction in support deter them when they sealed the title at Tynecastle back in May with a straightforward 2-0 victory.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers though was understandably less than enthused by the call from Hearts, saying this week: "It's always a difficult place to go, Tynecastle." So they say.

"However, we'll relish the game, it should be a great atmosphere," he continued.

"Sadly again, I don't think there are so many tickets for our supporters. So, we'll have to go there without our same support. However, we've shown already this season that we can go into venues that are tough venues and get the results that we need.”

Hearts manager, Steven Naismith, addressed those comments from his Celtic counterpart when he spoke to the media yesterday, unsurprisingly defending his club’s stance.

"Celtic will have their view, they are going to have their view just like we would have our view from what we get when we go to away grounds,” Naismith said.

“It’s not going to be much of an advantage or make that much of a difference to be honest, but I think first and foremost as a club, we have to look after our own fans.

“Consistently over the last six of seven years there has been a growth in the club in every department, the business side, the stadium, the club are looking to progress and develop as much as they can with all that and the fans and the ownership that brings a bigger following.

“The following is growing and growing and when we’ve got a fantastic stadium why would we not want to pack it out with our own fans?”

As with the debate over the away ticketing for the Old Firm match, there is the wider question of what limiting away supports does for the spectacle, and how that impacts the ‘product’ of Scottish football that is being sold to broadcasters.

Hearts fans attending the match on Sunday are unlikely to be losing too much sleep between now and then over that, but their club does retain a reciprocal agreement for larger away supports in the Edinburgh derby, at least partly to maintain the visceral atmosphere that makes the fixture one of the crown jewels in our game.

Naismith, for his part, does recognise that away ticketing is one of many areas in which the Scottish game isn’t currently helping itself.

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“I think there’s questions to be asked in the bigger picture and Scottish football can learn a lot from Europe, but at this moment in time with the way the structure and everything else is, then we as a club need to look after ourselves,” he said.

“Everybody individually looks after themselves. For the good of the game and the product, is there things we can do better? Across the board there is but the structure of Scottish football is not conducive to allow that to happen.

“But that’s a bigger issue than how many tickets we can give the opposition.

“I think having a full crowd with two sets of fans there definitely gives it a better atmosphere, that’s for sure, but it goes back to the structure and the makeup of the league. This needs to be a collective good for the game, good for everybody approach.

“You look at the German league in the past and what they did with ticket prices, that’s something they have done that makes it better for everybody. As a country we need to get better at doing that and maybe sacrifice a small portion for the benefit of everybody.

“But like I said, as it stands, we have a demand and a great backing, and we’ve got to give them the opportunity to watch a successful period in Hearts’ history.”

Whether they are successful on Sunday or not though, will likely have very little to do with the split of supporters in the Roseburn Stand.