A SCOTTISH title race that promised back in December to be every bit as close and dramatic as those which culminated in thrilling final day deciders in 2003 and 2005 has become a one-sided procession.

Celtic falling a goal behind to Kilmarnock at Parkhead early on yesterday – at a point in time when their nearest challengers Rangers were still beating St Johnstone 2-1 at McDiarmid Park - didn’t even inject any tension into proceedings.

Shortly after Eamonn Brophy had buried a sixth minute penalty for the visitors a cheer went around the packed stands as it emerged their city rivals had conceded a late equaliser up in Perth.

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But there was no repeat of the scenes of wild rejoicing which broke out in the Hearts game earlier this month - when the Ibrox club crashed to a costly defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park as they cruised to another emphatic win.

The outcome of the Ladbrokes Premiership this season has, due to the scintillating form shown by Neil Lennon’s side since play resumed after the winter shutdown and the erratic displays of Steven Gerrard’s team, been a foregone conclusion for some time now.

This 3-1 triumph, secured thanks to Kristoffer Ajer and Odsonne Edouard goals in the first-half and a Leigh Griffiths strike in the second, moved the defending champions 12 points clear at the top of the table with 10 matches remaining.

It is now a question of when, not if, Celtic will clinch their record-equalling ninth consecutive Scottish title. Truth be told, it has been for some time.

Lennon, who was delighted with how his charges performed without first team mainstays Scott Brown, James Forrest and Olivier Ntcham and the way they recovered from an early setback he thought was unjust, stressed that he didn’t want to talk about titles in the aftermath of the treble treble winners’ 10th straight domestic win. 

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Griffiths, who performed brightly up front alongside Edouard and notched his fifth goal of 2020, also trotted out the party line about not getting carried away with the size of their lead or taking anything for granted.

“Did what was going on elsewhere affect us?” he said. “No. We just go about our business, looking to get the three points, and then we look at what has happened elsewhere.

“There is a real resilience about this squad. There’s a never-say-die attitude. We keep going for the 90 minutes and are relentless. It’s the same in training and on the pitch. When you see the guys who can come in, it shows the strength in depth we’ve got.”

Griffiths added: “Broony, James and Olly were all missing, but look at the ones who came in and did the job. It’s a testament to the manager keeping everyone on their toes and working hard, so when people do come in they can put on that kind of performance.

“It (winning 10 games in a row) is an impressive response (to the home defeat to Rangers at the end of last year), but we take each game as it comes. There will definitely not be any complacency in the league. It’s the boring old cliché, but it is one game at a time.”

There is nothing boring about Celtic’s play at the moment, in attack especially. Griffiths and Edouard continue to link well together up front in the 3-5-2 formation Lennon switched to last month.

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However, every player in their line-up is capable of netting as Ajer once again showed when he levelled from close range. They have now scored 32 goals and conceded just five this year. The margin of victory would have been greater had it not been for some outstanding goalkeeping from Laurentiu Branescu.

Griffiths’s strike and all-round display has increased his chances of being involved when Scotland take on Israel in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final at the end of next month. He is, slowly but surely, getting back to his old self.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “That’s my first goal at home since August, so it was a relief. I’m happy to contribute to the team, whether it’s goals or setting up others. It’s been brilliant just being back involved and hopefully it will continue for a long, long time.

“The partnership with Odsonne is still growing. Since we’ve been paired together we’ve tried to link up the play as much as we can. You see his movement. He’s a great talent and he’s only going to get better as well. He’s unselfish.

“As a striker you’ve got to score goals, but the guy has got the whole package, whether it’s scoring or linking the play. You see him around the box, we try to link up as much as possible and bring in a few others. It’s working well and long may it continue.”

Kilmarnock, who had Alan Power sent off in the second-half for a second bookable offence, remained five points behind Hibernian, who drew 1-1 at home with Livingston on Saturday, in the Premiership table after the loss.

It is just as well the battle to finish in the top six looks set to serve up some excitement in the coming weeks because Celtic’s bid to lift the trophy once again certainly won’t.