HIS Celtic side may have won the Betfred Cup three years running, but it remains the only domestic trophy to elude Neil Lennon as a manager and is one that he is, despite the greater prizes which are up for grabs elsewhere this season, determined to lay his hands on come December.

Lennon suffered a succession of crushing disappointments in the competition, from losing finals to Rangers and underdogs Kilmarnock in successive seasons, to being routed by St Mirren in a semi-final and getting knocked out at home after extra-time by second tier strugglers Morton in the third round, during his first spell in the dugout at Parkhead.

There will, then, be no complacency or lack of focus when his men take to the field against managerless Championship opponents Partick Thistle at Celtic Park on Wednesday evening. “Maybe there is a little bit of a hex over me with the League Cup,” he said. “I won it as a player but not as a manager. We’ll see. I certainly hope not.”

Those aforementioned failures remain, regardless of all of the success the Northern Irishman has been responsible for at home and abroad and silverware he has lifted at the Glasgow club, painful memories which he is keen to atone for.

“I remember Morton,” he said. “We had a good team out (Scott Brown, Mikael Lustig, Charlie Mulgrew, Teemu Pukki, Tom Rogic and Virgil van Dijk all started). We peppered the goal and ended up losing 1-0. You ask yourself ‘did I make too many changes?’ But we had seven internationals playing.

“And there was one that got away. We could have got a treble, but lost to St Mirren in the semi-final. Kilmarnock? Should have won that, should have won that hands down.”

Lennon lifted the League Cup twice as a player in both England with Leicester City and in Scotland with Celtic. But he was involved in a serious scare in the competition against Partick during the 2002/03 campaign that saw Martin O’Neill’s side reach the UEFA Cup final. Their city rivals took them to a penalty shoot-out at Parkhead which they only edged 5-4 after both teams had taken nine spot kicks apiece.

“I was actually talking to the players about that after the Dunfermline game (the second round tie they won 2-1 at home after extra-time last month),” he said. “Even in great eras you get a difficult tie, no matter how well or how badly you play.

“It went to nine penalties each. Me and John Hartson were having a giggle about it afterwards and Martin absolutely went through us, so that was the end of that.”

Lennon may make changes to his Celtic side, who have had to negotiate seven games in three competitions in the space of four weeks, but he appreciates just how important victory is. Their hopes of completing a grand slam of trebles this term will end with defeat. He will still field a strong starting line-up.

“It might be an opportunity to give some players who haven’t played that much some game time,” he said. “But we’ll obviously make sure we don’t overcook it. You don’t want to make too many changes. If we win it there is an opportunity to get to a semi-final.

“We know that if we win we will be a game away from a final and that will be a huge incentive for the squad and it’s a game that we want to win and a cup that the players want to defend as vigorously as possible.

“We’re not guaranteed to win it. We are at home, so that’s good, it gives us an advantage. But we are coming up against a team that maybe will shine through adversity and gives us real problems like Dunfermline did, so we have to be very wary of it.

“Again, we are not looking at winning it, we are looking to get through and taking it from there and, if we can get through, seeing what the semi-final will bring. I’m not going to take it lightly, let’s put it that way, we’ll have a strong team out and one that is capable of winning the game.”

Should Celtic struggle to take the lead against Thistle, fall behind against the run of play or have a legitimate goal chalked off for offside on Wednesday evening the chances are high that Lennon will remain calm and composed on the touchline.

The 48-year-old often let his notorious temper get the better of him during his first stint as manager at Parkhead - most infamously when he stormed onto the pitch to confront referee Euan Norris after his men had lost the Scottish Cup semi-final to Hearts at Hampden in 2012.

But the Europa League game against Rennes in France on Thursday night – when the match official denied his side a stonewall penalty when Ryan Christie was brought down in the home team’s area – showed once again that he has matured.

“I now take a step back from things,” he said. “I have got two young dynamic coaches (John Kennedy and Damien Duff) who can make the noises and shout their disapproval or whatever. But I think in this day and age you adapt, you adapt to the players, you adapt to the generation, you try to adapt anyway.

“There are some things that irk you, but, in the main, I am in a good place since I came in the door. I am grateful for the opportunity and want to make the most of it.

“I think you have to work at it. I think you do. There are aspects of your personality that you can change, although you don’t want to take away that streak in you either. You never lose that anyway, but you can curtail it anyway.

“There is a balance. Sometimes they need a prod. We all do. But I do that very, very rarely. John is a very calm, collected person about the place anyway. Damien is a bit like a younger version of me. There is a good dynamic between the three of us at the moment.”

Lennon added: “Even in training when I go after somebody I come away thinking ‘I might have been a bit too hard on him there’. You learn from that and you learn from your experiences. I’m not saying I’m the finished article by any means. I will still be prone to losing my temper, but this group is really good to manage at the minute.

“Of course there will be pressure games coming up and it’s a question of just maintaining that calmness. That’s what they’re used to. You don’t want to change it. You don’t want to change who you are either, but you can adapt to how you approach the players and how you adapt your personality as a manager. Older managers tend to do that now.”