Credit where it is due, Newco have kept pace with Celtic in the league and did better than expectations in the Europa League, where, like Celtic, they top their group after five games. So far, so good, for the challengers, but December has loomed long in the calendar.
Before the end of this month, Celtic play two away games in the league, against Hearts and St Mirren, teams joint-bottom of the table. By contrast, Newco are away to top of the table Celtic, Aberdeen, who lie one place below them, Motherwell, who are fourth and sixth place Hibs. The only team in the top half of the league they do not face away from home this month is Kilmarnock, who visit Ibrox on Boxing Day.
In the Europa, having already won the group, Celtic can rest players away to Cluj, whereas Newco will almost certainly need a point at home to Young Boys to qualify.
Against Ross County on Sunday, Neil Lennon had the luxury of giving players extra time to recover from knocks; the same is true tomorrow when Hamilton Accies come to Celtic Park. Aberdeen are not the side they were two years ago, but Pittodrie is still a challenging place to perform. Newco will not have the luxury of resting anyone when they visit tomorrow.
The consequences of tomorrow’s games might not tell in the league table at full time, but it will have an impact on energy in legs in the latter stages of Sunday’s League Cup final and could contribute to how the league looks on 30 December.