The long and lonely walk to the penalty spot from the safety of the centre-circle still stands out in the mind of Callum McGregor. It was nothing compared to the hollow aftermath as McGregor’s penalty miss, compounded to by misses from Scott Brown and Tom Rogic saw Celtic exit the William Hill Scottish Cup at this stage last season.

The Parkhead players had to suck up Rangers’ triumph at Hampden last April, a result that when placed into a bigger picture can now be regarded as the catalyst for Brendan Rodgers’ arrival at Celtic Park.

It seems like a different Celtic side that will take to the field for tomorrow’s game at the national stadium. There is an assurance and a certainty about the team, built largely on the solid foundations of weekly results.

McGregor sclaffed his spot-kick in the shoot-out off the crossbar – the only time in the penalty lottery when the Hoops could have gone ahead – but he has insisted that it will not feature in his thinking should he be asked to step up again this weekend.

“Of course I remember the shoot-out, it was a low day for the club,” said the midfielder.

“But you can draw on that experience because we’ve had that feeling as a squad and we don’t want it again.

“We don’t want to be there come Sunday again. I always try and focus on the positives.

“Yes, I missed a penalty but I wouldn’t shy away if it came round again.

“I would definitely take one again, it was a learning experience for me.

“We all felt terrible after the game but you have to try and move on. It has made me a better player.

“The walk to and back from the penalty spot is pretty much as you can imagine.

“It wasn’t a great experience for us last year but we are looking forward to putting it right. I picked my spot but got underneath it and it came off the bar.

“We probably had the better chances in the game and were a bit unlucky. Penalties are a bit of a lottery. Some people miss and some score.

“It was a horrible day for us. The feeling didn’t go away for a few weeks. That happens in football, you need to pick yourself up and move on. We will try to be more positive on Sunday, learn from those mistakes and get through.”

McGregor was singled out for praise by Rodgers in the aftermath of Celtic winning the league at Tynecastle, with the Hoops boss comparing the player’s influence to that of Joe Allen.

It was a parallel that McGregor enjoyed.

“I don’t think I’d suit the long hair and beard,” he joked. “It was great that the manager singled me out and gave me a bit of praise. It was great to read and hear it. It was a really big boost for me and it shows that you are valued.

“The more positions you can play, the more chance you’ve got of getting in the team. It’s good he recognises that in me. Wherever he plays me, I’m happy.”

And so far as this weekend is concerned, McGregor is optimistic that Celtic will firmly confine the experience of last season to the memory bank.

“I’m just looking forward to putting it right. These games always take care of themselves, everyone knows what’s at stake and what they mean,” said the affable midfielder who played his 100th game for the club a few weeks back at Dens Park.

“We know how big a game it is so it’s up to the players to go and try and perform on the day. We’ve had a good week training and we’re ready for it.

“You can’t avoid the result and what happened. Everyone remembers each Old Firm, not just the one before.

“It’s something we have to deal with and I think we have.

“Looking back, knowing what we all know now, it was a real turning point for the club.

“The new manager arrived and he’s been first class, you’ve seen the results we’ve had this season.”

Much was expected of Celtic ahead of the last league meeting between the teams given the dominancy of the Parkhead side this season.

That has been reflected in the chasm between the teams in the league table but McGregor believes that on any one off day that anything can happen.

“As much as we won 5-1 on the first game, it was a wee bit flattering for us,” he said. “The derby games are always hard fought. It comes down to who wants to win it most on the day.

“You saw the one after that, when we won 1-0 at Hampden in the League Cup semi-final, and dominated the game more than we did in the 5-1 game. So it was just the scoreline in that first game that made everyone think there was a bigger gap than their actually is.

“We are just looking to take all the experience and confidence of being unbeaten in these games this season, all the hard work we have put in, to take it into Sunday.”