No one would have enjoyed hearing the score come through from Alicante last night as Spain crushed World Cup finalists Croatia 6-0. By any normal measure, there should never be six goals between these sides, but team dynamics are more than just players and tactics. Croatia exhausted every ounce of emotional energy at the World Cup.
Every clichéd action must have taken place as they overcame yet another opponent on the way to the final in Moscow. After the dam burst against France, how do you recapture that belief that you are invincible?
There are parallels with Celtic last season. With an invincible treble bagged, Celtic broke their own Scottish record for an undefeated run of games, but soon thereafter capitulated at Tynecastle. Defeats from Kilmarnock, Hibs and Aberdeen followed. The players could still raise their game, specifically to find fresh ways to humiliate Newco, but whatever it took to allowed them to reach remarkable levels every single game was gone.
Just as Celtic recorded another treble, Croatia will recover; the defeat to Spain was an aberration, but the formula for pushing players to the limit every game is elusive. Celtic will comfortably win 8-in-a-row, but a challenge for the next phase of Brendan Rodgers reign will be to repeatedly find the same sharpness, from the same players, with the same message. That will take more than “Here we go again!”