Efe Ambrose may well have woken up this morning with the wish that he had continued with Nigeria's Africa Cup of Nations celebrations rather than made a swift return to Glasgow. Ambrose has inevitably been portrayed as the fall guy for Celtic's 3-0 defeat by Juventus. The defender, playing only 48 hours after he helped his country to a memorable trophy win, was culpable for two of those Juve strikes and missed a glorious opportunity himself to level the match at 1-1.
How easy football would be if played in hindsight. The reality is that Ambrose's selection was only one of the admirably bold moves made by the Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, for the last-16, first-leg tie. They ultimately did not pay off, but Celtic's desire to force the play on to their Italian opponents and attack in numbers should not and will not go unnoticed. All too often, Scottish sides have reverted to a dull, defensive format when looking to succeed in European matches.
Lennon had clearly thought out his ambitious game plan well in advance. It was deployed without the influential but injured Georgios Samaras but succeeded in pressing the Italians back for concerted spells. Given Juve's talent, that in itself was as refreshing as it was enjoyable to watch; there should also be little shock attached to the fact Celtic tired late in the game, when they conceded two goals.
If the rest of Europe glanced towards the Celtic Park scoreline and shrugged at an inevitable result, they would be doing the Scottish champions an immense disservice. Tuesday night's contest was an enthralling one, with the spectacle aided in no small part by Celtic's desire to keep playing on their front foot.
In the specific case of Ambrose, it would be folly to suggest Lennon had scores of defensive alternatives. The manager clearly rates Ambrose as one of his best two centre-backs; he had also impressed when representing Nigeria in South Africa.
The mistakes Ambrose made, failing to win the ball before Juve's opener and conceding possession prior to their third goal, could legitimately have befallen any member of the Celtic team. It it simplistic to link them directly to Ambrose's African exertions. The scoring chance that fell to him, a header from point-blank range, hardly represents the kind of thing defenders are placed in a team for.
Elsewhere, Celtic had a string of fine performances amid what was a surprisingly bold lineup. Kris Commons troubled the Juventus defenders as routine, James Forrest displayed a turn of pace which obviously concerned the same players, while Victor Wanyama and Emilio Izaguirre also excelled in their respective roles.
What Celtic lacked was the clinical touch of the Serie A leaders. If there is a lesson for Lennon and his players to learn, the necessity for that ruthless form when featuring in the Champions League is it. Gary Hooper, Celtic's most potent striker and a player rightly courted by English clubs, was not handed a clear-cut chance all evening.
By half-time, the hosts had 14 attempts at goal but without forcing Gianluigi Buffon into a difficult save. With 75 minutes played, Celtic had forced 10 corner kicks; again while failing to endorse that statistic with the one which would count the most, a goal.
Celtic have nothing but valuable experience to play for when they visit Turin. Yet they can take solace not only from an appearance in the last 16 of the Champions League – something Manchester City and Chelsea could not manage, for all their fortunes – but the manner with which they met that challenge. Sometimes, football can indeed be cruel.