Celtic will face their first Champions League qualifying opponents on either 31 July or 1 August but heartbeats among the scouting staff will quicken tonight and tomorrow when every potential opponent will play in the second qualifying round.
A number of potential opponents from eastern and northern Europe are mid-season but all will benefit from successfully coming through two qualifying games before tackling seeded opponents two weeks from now.
It is crucially important that Celtic are ready for this tie.
The final qualifying round, scheduled to take place during the last two weeks in August, will offer a greater challenge on paper but European qualifying games in July are notorious for catching better teams unprepared.
After a credibly, though ultimately unsuccessful, Europa League group campaign last season Celtic’s domestic form clicked into place and we looked like a team capable of becoming champions. There was some regret that we didn’t hit form early enough to make the most of our European adventure. Neil Lennon will also be keen to avoid the anaemic performance against Sion, who beat Celtic on aggregate but were subsequently awarded two 3-0 defeats for failing to observe rules.
These Celtic players found hidden depths last season but they have a point to prove in Europe. There is also the nagging suspicion that this Celtic team is more talented that the two Gordon Strachan took to the later stages of the Champions League.
Bring it on.
Get your season ticket and saddle up for the ride.