You and I are preoccupied with winning tonight to ensure the gap at the top of the table does not grow beyond the four points it was before this round of games got underway. Hearts have a different focus; a win would see them leapfrog Celtic into second place.
Early in the season Robbie Neilson was back at or near the top of the table, enjoying the kind of form Hearts showed before he left for MK Dons five years ago yesterday. His stay in Milton Keynes was a disaster and Heats fared no better with a trio of underperforming managers appointed in his wake.
Form soon slipped, especially away from home, where they have picked up only three points since August, half the amount they collected that month. Since then they have lost at Motherwell and Aberdeen, while collecting a point at Newco, Ross County and St Johnstone.
I’ve read through match reports for the last two months, it is a tale of attacking abandon at home and belligerent negativity away, marked by red cards on their previous two travels. We can expect shed loads of belligerence tonight.
They did, of course, beat Celtic 2-1 on the opening game of the season, but that was then. Celtic have changed beyond all recognition in the months since, notably as Tynecastle debutant, Kyogo, settled into life in Scotland. Two weeks later Celtic produced one of the most scintillating displays of the season to knock Hearts out of the League Cup, although the 3-2 score suggests otherwise.
Celtic are closing in on full strength going into an intense December fixture list. If we deliver on our own potential, we don’t need to worry about referees elsewhere. 3 points please, Celtic.