It seems like Celtic fans have been waiting all season for the fun to begin. For the football they so enjoyed immediately after Brendan Rodgers took over their team the first time around to make itself known in more than just fleeting glimpses.

They may not have thought that it would manifest itself as the season entered what Sir Alex Ferguson may call ‘squeaky bum time’, but perhaps it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. After all, as the Celtic manager stresses, these are the moments when he feels he comes into his own. And when, as he puts it, he expects Celtic’s football to ‘smile’.

For all manner of reasons, this season has been one with few reasons to smile for the normally irrepressible Rodgers, but the emphatic 7-1 win over Dundee on Wednesday night felt like a significant moment, with both supporters and team pulling in the same direction for perhaps the first time this season.

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Rodgers certainly revelled in that synergy returning, and you got the sense when he was speaking ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Tynecastle that he is ready for what lies ahead. More than that, that he is actually looking forward to what is sure to be a nerve-shredding final stretch in the title race for fans on both sides of Glasgow.

"When you arrive at 10 games to go, that's when the fun begins, that's when you are into the business side,” Rodgers said.

“That's what I am really looking forward to.

“[Mentality], it’s everything. This is the serious part of the season. People will always try to dramatise it from a long way out, and the finish line is still quite a way away, but this is the real exciting bit where every single point matters.

“But like I say, there’s still a long way to go, 10 games to go, but it’s such a brilliant challenge and I’m looking forward to it.

“I have always felt our biggest enemy this season is ourselves. If we perform to the level that we can do on a consistent basis, we are a very good team.

“It's that consistency now of taking that performance into our next game.”

As well as a feeling that his team are coming on strong at just the right moment to make a final push for the title, Rodgers has felt something click inside of him too as he stares down the 10 games that stand between his side and the retention of their Premiership crown.

“Totally,” he said.

“It feels different. You know it’s game on, and you need to bring it on now.

“That is what the message was before the game the other night [against Dundee], you are now in a period where you just cannot be in you comfort zone.

“Now, you should never be. Naturally, you can be as a player, for whatever reason. But from now on in…

“I say comfort zone because you have to have physicality. If you are in your comfort zone in life then you are normally not being physical, you are not doing the work.

“You are in a period now where you have to be on it, you have to be there, and I think we saw the example of that the other night.

“From the off, the aggression, the speed, the touch, everything. When our game is like that then our football smiles, and that is what we want to see now for the rest of the season.

“It’s been a challenging season up to now for so, so many reasons, but we are there. We are still there, and we’ve got two big targets to play for, and it is still all within our grasp. So, we’ll be ready.”

During the various ups and downs of the campaign to date, there have been times when supporters have questioned whether certain players are really up to the level required to represent Celtic, both in terms of their mentality and their football ability.

Rodgers though has challenged his men to show everyone that not only can they handle the pressure that is yet to come in the weeks and months ahead, but their ability to thrive under it is exactly why they were brought to the club in the first place.

And if they can’t, or they retreat into their shells, then Celtic isn’t the place for them.

“I think it’s one where, especially with experience, you know that is what it brings,” he said.

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“If you don’t relish pressure then you can never be in this position as a manager or a player at a club like this here.

“If you want a holiday then go to a club where you can win once or twice in a month and maybe draw or lose two in a month. This isn’t the club to be at.

“This is what this club is about, it is about pressure, it is about dealing with pressure, and responding to it.”