Celtic have been snapped out of a title trance and rude Rangers awakening shows what must come next

Brendan Rodgers and Celtic have hit a speed bumpBrendan Rodgers and Celtic have hit a speed bump
Brendan Rodgers and Celtic have hit a speed bump | SNS Group
Celtic were left reeling at Hearts but Rangers blinking provides a title race clue.

It started off with a roar of expectancy and ended with a rally cry of Celtic hope.

There were no full-time inquests from fans in the Roseburn Stand at Tynecastle. No anger displayed towards the board. A collective, hurried applause that this title race was going the distance and they were buckled up for it.

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Celtic have been the undisputed kings of Scotland for over decade now. Rangers' time out the top flight had them rack up league titles at a canter and only on infrequent occasions since their return have Celtic been truly challenged.

The one time Rangers did get the better of them, they totally blew them out the water. There hasn't been a back and forth title race like the one both sides have found themselves in right now for a vast amount of time. Thoughts of a helicopter Sunday are very real. Perhaps there was a section of the Celtic crowd who didn't acknowledge the challenge Rangers have presented under the often impressive Philippe Clement. Who could blame them, the younger element especially have lived through an era where Trebles are expected and even a double can't match achievements of previous years.

At the helm, they have a manager who in his first spell was a sweeping force of domestic nature. So even amid gripes at the board, discontent from some over Brendan Rodgers' return after his exit last time around and accusations of falling asleep at the wheel, title expectancy remained.

Rodgers has spoken of a narrative being written and that the Hoops will write their own story. So when Rangers took a major blink against Motherwell, it seemed like the only way the weekend was ending was with Celtic top of the league. Where they have sat for the vast majority of the last 10 years or so. But when Adam Idah missed the spot-kick and Yang was sent packing within a few minutes, the tides shifted.

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Dismayed he may about some of the decisions made by referee Don Robertson and VAR official John Beaton, those moments posed a question to Rodgers' Celtic troops that couldn't be answered. Captain Callum McGregor watched on injured from the sidelines, unable to drag his teammates out the mire like he has done so often, watching them fall to a 2-0 defeat.

The shot they so often take and execute with perfection, they missed. Their plan of attack in Edinburgh was ripped up inside 16 minutes and truth be told, there was little semblance of what Plan B was trying to accomplish, as hard as they fought.

So often have Celtic fans launched the 'bottle job' tag at Rangers for failures to strike when it matters. It was no surprise to see fans with Ibrox leanings take delight in the shoe being on the other foot, as they goaded their rivals with the same tag that's hung over them. A weekend where Rangers lost to a provincial club - one that hadn't won at Ibrox in the league since 1997 - failed to alter the balance of power. With a mighty roar to those left in the away end, Joe Hart passionately rallied the fans who appeared to in that moment, accept the title fight.

There will come a time where questions will be asked of Rodgers. How did they go from such a position of strength under Ange Postecoglou to a race looking more like a photo finish with every passing game? Perhaps some of that will be sent towards those boasting of magnificent financial footing, yet who also failed to back the boss adequately in January. Some might say the summer too.

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Rodgers said post-match title destiny was in his side's hands. And he's right, nothing is won yet. It's certain, however, this fight is going to the final round of matchday 38. And Celtic must prove unity found at Tynecastle remains through to May, otherwise Rangers will spot a weakness to exploit.

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