The trouble with Celtic's imminent Scottish Premier League title win is that the inevitability attached to it has been in place since the first ball of the season was kicked last August. If Celtic beat Hibernian on Saturday and St Mirren win at Motherwell, Neil Lennon's second championship in a row will be confirmed.
Celtic's campaign has been notable for an excellent Champions League performance endorsed by the win over Barcelona. Domestic success is a necessity when seeking a return to Europe's top table but on the home front there is reason for much contemplation in the Celtic boardroom. Rangers' demise means Celtic will be the champions of Scotland for the foreseeable future, barring heavy investment in one of the other clubs, which is highly unlikely.
Yet if Celtic succumb to complacency and fail to invest in players capable of taking them to the group stage of the Champions League, their balance sheet will suffer. The commercial backdrop in Scotland is such that, even for a club of Celtic's size, Champions League participation marks the difference between a large loss and a decent profit.
In Victor Wanyama, Fraser Forster and Gary Hooper, Celtic have three assets who may well be lured away by more lucrative offers this summer. If they were to depart, those players would at least privately acknowledge the anomaly between rousing European occasions in Glasgow and flat SPL games. The league itself is unquestionably weak.
Lennon believes his players will not be afforded the credit they are due for this SPL success because of Rangers' position in Division Three. Celtic's resources dwarf those of the rest of the SPL; if any other club pays out anything at all in transfer fees, it is a rarity. Still, Celtic could claim only one of Scotland's three main trophies last season when Rangers were still in the top flight. This term, the League Cup has already been won by St Mirren.
Lennon is quick to highlight the situation elsewhere in Europe when the SPL's lack of competitive edge is put to him. He points out that Bayern Munich are 20 points clear at the top, Manchester United are 15 points clear and Barcelona are 13 points ahead. "Not many of the big leagues are competitive. They tend to have one dominant team," he says
It is also the case that Celtic, who are 13 points clear, have lost six times, more than would routinely be the case whenever either half of the Old Firm won the league. Their tally of 66 points is hardly an embarrassment for the rest of the SPL.
Those aspects are offset by the fact Celtic's vast superiority was already acknowledged even before the campaign got under way. There was never any legitimate sentiment that defeats would cost them the defence of their championship.
With that in mind there is an issue over for how long supporters, including those of Celtic, will pay to watch something regarded as a foregone conclusion. The SPL champion's season-ticket prices, and sales, for next season will provide a source of fascination.
Celtic's directors, while aware of these economic times, will argue that the fans should prove the club can stand alone, without Rangers, by continuing to flock to games. That hope is offset by reality; Celtic's supporters now know tickets are readily available for all of their home fixtures, barring the kind of high‑profile European ties that cannot yet be guaranteed.
The rest of Scottish football has seen things akin to this before. Celtic and Rangers have each had spells where nine championships in a row were collected. In Rangers' case, the splashing of cash after Graeme Souness arrived at Ibrox all but ended the aspirations of Aberdeen, Hearts and Dundee United of winning championships, give or take the odd flirtation with glory. As now, when supporters are being asked to pay to watch a league their team have no chance of winning, a sense of loyalty is the only ace a club can play.
None of this means Celtic and Lennon should not enjoy the celebrations when they are triggered. Glances towards the future, nonetheless, are inevitable.