The bubble of invincibility in which Celtic, dressing gown-clad with slippers on, have been residing for the previous two seasons has been perforated and it’s pandemonium at Parkhead.
A sluggish start to proceedings has seen the Bhoys fall six points behind surprise pacesetters Hamilton Academicals going into the international break, but they still remain unbackable 7/100 shots to recover and hoist an umpteenth Scottish Premiership title.
Accies, who claimed the spoils when they squared off with Ronny Deila’s men last time out, are a gargantuan 80/1 to land the trophy, while there’s 50/1 about Inverness, Dundee United are on offer at 25’s and 14/1 can be snapped up for those who fancy Aberdeen.
All enormous prices and any one is worth a punt because this is going to be the season where the unthinkable happens; this will be the season when the riff raff dump the perennial overlords into the gutter; this, ladies and gentlemen, will be the season when Celtic DO NOT win the Scottish Premiership.
The gradual migration of talent has seen their squad devolve to a standard that’s allowed rivals to gain ground.
In the present day especially, playing for Celtic must get boring.
Guaranteed to add a league winners’ medal to their silverware collection, foreign players have tended to use the Glaswegian outfit as a gateway to the Premier League (see Victor Wanyama) while youngsters cast off from the bigger clubs south of the border have used the club, who frequently compete in the Champions League, to prove they can cut it at the top (see Fraser Forster).
Owing to a lack of domestic competitiveness, they’ve become more of a sounding board than a continental force.
As soon as the opportunity arises, their stars do one, but persisting with this recruitment policy is vital to Celtic recycling success.
Scouring the globe for unearthed gems should have been their top priority, not winning the SPL, which would have just happened organically.
Loaning relatively experienced players not deemed sufficient to prosper in the big leagues (see Aleksandar Tonev and Mubarak Wakaso) is a sure fire way to ensure quality is diminished.
They have the curse of the Europa League to contend with.
Newcastle and Swansea are two Premier League outfits in recent years that have seen their domestic form tumble when simultaneously trying to tackle Europe’s consolation competition.
Near-nailed on top half finishers Everton are the latest English outfit to fall foul of the hoodoo, sitting just two points above the relegation zone after seven matches.
Judging by Celtic’s early-season toils, it looks as though they’re heading for a campaign of underachievement too.
They’ve failed to win both matches they’ve contested after returning from Europa League detail, drawing with Motherwell before being turned over by Hamilton.
Picking up four points from their opening two outings in the competition, one of which was plundered away at Salzburg in their toughest fixture, has put them in a great position to progress, meaning the turmoil will continue.
Kilmarnock and Aberdeen (both of whom have more points accumulated than the Hoops thus far) are their next two post-Euro tie adversaries and, based on recent results, it’ll be hard work lassoing the laurels in these games.
They’ll be starved of success for long as they’re suffering from Norwegian manager-itis.
Budding gaffers who have cut their teeth in Norge don’t tend to do well in Britain.
Deila may have guided Stromsgodset to an unlikely Tippeligaen win last season and domestic cup triumph the year before, but he’s not winning many friends in the fledgling stages of his Celtic career.
Extenuating circumstances may dictate the substandard results he’s getting, but the record of his countrymen on these shores suggest he’s to blame in some capacity.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a title-winning miracle worker in his homeland who also had the great Sir Alex Ferguson as his managerial mentor, so no one could’ve foretold his spectacular failure at Cardiff.
Not only did he oversee their relegation from the Premier League, but he also threatened to derail their Championship promotion bid with a woeful start to second-tier proceedings.
Henning Berg, who masterminded a 6-1 aggregate win over Celtic in the Champions League play-offs before seeing his Legia Warsaw side ejected over an administrational issue, clearly has a bit about him too.
But he couldn’t work his magic at Blackburn, where he lasted just ten games and fewer than two months before being sacked.
Then there’s Egil Olsen.
He was at the helm when the age-old Wimbledon ship went careening into the jagged rocks that not only ended their Premier League stay, but, ultimately, terminated their very existence.
Much to the chagrin of their supporters, the Dons are now based 61.5 miles away in Milton Keynes.
It’s unlikely that failure to bring home the SPL bacon this term will see Celtic shrivel up and disappear, relocate to Perthshire and start calling themselves the Luncarty Bhoys.
But the form of his peers, amongst other issues, suggests they’ll be starved of success this term so oppose them in the Scottish League winner betting.