HAD Celtic needed any reminder about the perils and pitfalls of playing European minnows away from home they certainly got it on Tuesday night.
The defeat of Old Firm rivals Rangers by Progres Niederkorn, Luxembourg’s fourth-best team, was as shocking as it was unheralded.
While it should have no direct effect on Brendan Rodgers’ side when they begin their Champions League campaign against Linfield at Belfast’s Windsor Park on Friday, it does bring to mind the Hoops’ less-than-successful start to their campaign last season.
“I try not to think about Gibraltar too much!” said Kieran Tierney, with a rueful smile, when asked to relive Celtic’s notorious loss on the Rock to Lincoln Red Imps this time last year.
“It was a hard night for everybody and a weird place to play football.
“Listen, we could come up with 1000 excuses for that result, but the fact is we just weren’t good enough on the night.
“We should have beaten them. Obviously we went back to Celtic Park and put it right, but it’s a lesson.
“You don’t want it to happen again.
“As a young boy every experience is new for me, but that was especially tough.
“It was my first taste of the Champions League qualifiers, and I experienced a defeat.
“It wasn’t great. But we recovered from it and ended up qualifying for the Champions League.”
Celtic not only went on to qualify for the group stages of Europe’s most-prestigious club competition, they also managed the remarkable feat of the Invincible Treble, going through their entire domestic campaign undefeated.
“After that defeat I don’t think anybody could have expected us to go on and do what we did,” said Tierney.
“But a defeat like that makes you hungry.
“Even last weekend, we know we didn’t play well against Rapid Vienna and that just makes you hungrier to put it right in the next game.
“You always want to correct a bad performance.”
With Linfield having captured their own domestic treble in Northern Ireland last season, County Antrim-born Brendan Rodgers won’t be underestimating this week’s opponents.
Nevertheless Celtic will, as Tierney confirms, expect to motor through the qualifiers without too much trouble.
“I would say we are better prepared now than we were last year,” he said.
“We have had a year together as a team, brought in a couple of players and they have settled quickly.
“It feels like they have been here for a while, and that is always good.
“Plus we are much more familiar with the way the manager wants us play now. We feel more confident.
“We have a good season behind us with the manager. He knows us now and we know him.
“He knows his team, so we are looking forward to every game.”
Some of which turn out to be more special than others. Against BW Linz the 20-year-old was handed the captain’s armband.
“It was only a friendly, but I wore it with honour and pride,” he said.
“It’s the first time and it was so special.
“It was John Kennedy who told me. We were playing two teams, switching over at half-time, so he told me they had a surprise for me.
“I think the coaches knew how much that would mean to me.”
However, as much as the Scot relished the experience, he is not planning a takeover. He has too much respect for the current incumbent, Scott Brown.
“To have that honour for the second half was brilliant for me, but I know it’s Broony’s armband,” he said.
“He deserves it so much because he is honestly the perfect captain.
“If you knew what he was like inside the club, how he treats the young boys and makes everybody feel part of it.
“I look up to him as a player. I always did when I was younger, he was a hero of mine.
“Now I know him. To have that honour for the second half was brilliant for me, but it’s Broony’s armband, he deserves it.
“I hope he is here for many years as captain.”