Celtic 0-2 Barcelona: No European football after Christmas, but Rodgers' men learn valuable lessons
They came, they saw, they conquered. Again. Barcelona killed off Celtic's latest European campaign in a match where Lionel Messi provided the goals, and his two pals - Suarez and Neymar - did nothing to dispel their pantomime villain image. It feels like we've been here before.
The weather and the atmosphere in Glasgow ticked all the boxes of the cliched Champions League night at Celtic Park, with a particularly special and dazzling display in the 67th minute lifting the decibel level at a time when the home side were already out of the game, and out of Europe.
The mutual love-in between the two sets of supporters also conformed to the norm of recent years. With Barcelona fans soaking up the atmosphere generated, and Celtic fans keen to make their thoughts on Barcelona's star man clear by applauding the Catalan's chant of 'Messi, Messi, Messi'.
In The Heat Of Lisbon: Celtic supporters lit up the stands on the 67th minute in tribute to the clubs European Cup winning side of 1967
If so much seemed familiar off the pitch, there is something different happening on it. Celtic were well in the game until Lionel Messi struck the opener, and spurned a great chance to equalise before the Argentine converted a second half penalty to kill the game.
There have been lessons learned from this game, and the campaign as a whole that will make Celtic stronger under Brendan Rodgers next season. Celtic have proven they can press and harry more illustrious opponents and play with a pace and energy to cause more talented teams real problems. This match represented a huge improvement from the opening round against Barcelona, and this campaign has represented an improvement on the two that came before it.
If the pressing and energy of the team is enough to please Rodgers, the individual quality is something that perhaps still leaves a lot to be desired. Craig Gordon has re-asserted himself as the clubs No. 1 and again produced a save to prove why he is still a capable 'keeper for Celtic.
In defence, the flourishing partnership of Simunovic and Sviatchenko (22 and 25) flanked by Kieran Tierney (19) and the more experienced Mikael Lustig (29) provides the basis of a team that could see Celtic through another couple of Champions League campaigns.
In midfield, Celtic need to add quality to help out the outstanding Scott Brown. Bitton and Rogic have the technical ability, but lack pace and mobility, while the reverse is true of Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor. The need for more quality in midfield is clear.
Scott Sinclair has added pace and quality to the side, Patrick Roberts has the dribbling ability to cause problems for defences in Europe, while the renaissance of James Forrest has been a welcome surprise. But Roberts is due to leave this Summer and the pessimists among us can't help but feel Forrest will be struck down by injury or loss of form - as he so often has. More pace and creativity is required if Celtic are to push onto the next level.
In attack, Moussa Dembele has been the biggest revelation, having taking his chance when Leigh Griffiths picked up an iinjury, he's continued taking chance, after chance, after chance in a blistering start to his Celtic career that has alerted some of Europe's biggest sides. The fact Dembele appears to have indicated he intends to remain at Celtic for another Champions League campaign will be music to the ears of Rodgers and the clubs supporters, who chanted the Frenchman's name throughout Wednesday's tie.
Progress has been made. The current team is lightyears ahead of the poor imitations that were taken apart by Legia Warsaw, pipped to the group stages by Maribor and Malmo and outmanuevered by Molde. But they are still two, maybe three, players away from being able to really make a dent in this competition.