For you and me, it was a dead rubber, an opportunity to watch Celtic without the pressure of winning or losing. For the players and coaches, not so much. The entirely-changed 11 who took the field played like they wanted to make an impact, as did an almost-as-changed Real Betis side.
The game was competitive, the nine added minutes at the end of the second half passed excruciatingly slowly; by that stage of the evening, no one’s head was in dead rubber territory.
When Albian Ajeti pulled up lame in the first half, Ange Postecoglou had plenty to ponder. At that moment, he was left with only one fit striker, Kyogo Furuhashi, the most valuable asset in Scottish football, who was resting on the bench.
Of course Kyogo came on. Ange did not set his team out to pull their punches, he wanted and got a performance. He gave fringe players their opportunity. Would it have been right for him to pull his own punches, 30 minutes into the game, by leaving his only striker on the bench? If he expects the players to commit, he has to commit and play the game competitively.
Management is so subtle. Selecting the right players and tactics is not nearly enough. If you want players to follow you, you have to live the role. Ange knew this when he told Kyogo to get stripped.
So what did we learn? James McCarthy looks more than comfortable in a Celtic shirt every time I see him. The player he was is slowly emerging. Liam Scales can feel aggrieved he has not had a sniff of proper action before this week. Stephen Welsh continues to grow into the role of Celtic central defender, a year after breaking into the team.
We finished third in a group against the third placed teams in Germany and Spain. Collecting six points from Ferencvaros was an objective delivered, although so much more could have been achieved as we allowed comfortable positions slip in Spain and Germany.
If you are old enough, you will remember being told Celtic win trophies when they first emerge. Perhaps the Europa Conference League will have its compensations.
Motherwell on Sunday afternoon is anything but a dead rubber. The Celtic FC Foundation Bucket Collection returns for the first time in two years, those in need remain numerous. The work of the Foundation does is remarkable and literally life changing at this time of year. It is our greatest boast.