IT HAS been a week when Celtic supporters were reminded of what their club could once achieve on the European stage. While a tilt at winning the European Cup again may be stretching the limits of plausibility these days, they will also be keen to remind the club’s board that the weight of Celtic’s history means they must at least strive to compete.

For Michael Nicholson, that means matching both their ambition, and that of manager Ange Postecoglou.

Associations with Peter Lawwell, no matter your view on the polarising former chief executive of Celtic, can be hard to shake. Such was the impact of Lawwell during his trophy-laden - yet often tumultuous - 17-year tenure at the club, that his influence is still suspected by many to be casting its shadow over the running of Celtic even now.

Such links to Lawwell needn’t be barriers to his associates going on to have a positive impact at the club in their own right, though. Certainly, his son Mark, Celtic’s new Head of Scouting and Recruitment, will hope that is the case.

Another who is striving to make his own mark at Celtic, despite his close friendship with Lawwell, is the man who has now filled his position following the short-lived and ill-fated tenure of Dominic McKay.

Nicholson may look upon his remit as continuing the good work that was done by Lawwell, rather than trying to break out of his shadow, but he has quietly gone about making something of a name for himself with the Celtic support in his short time holding the reins.

Indeed, for both Nicholson and Lawwell Jnr, it was been their close working relationship with Celtic manager Postecoglou that has been the main focus of the support, with the universally popular Australian frequently speaking warmly of the job Nicholson is doing, and having previously worked with Lawwell at Yokohama F. Marinos. That has more than helped their approval ratings.

It is now though that the real acid test comes for Nicholson, especially, with the Celtic supporters waiting to see if he will break from the oft-perceived cautious summer transfer window approach that so angered them during Lawwell Snr’s reign.

As the January window showed, Postecoglou is a man who likes to get his business done early. The Celtic support are now waiting to see if Nicholson will release the funds necessary in order to allow their manager to strengthen his team for the challenge of that lies ahead in the group stages of the Champions League.

There are, after all, handsome riches guaranteed to come Celtic’s way from their participation at this stage of the tournament, and fans will demand that there is a decent level of speculation prior to accumulating that wealth so that the club look as good on the field as they do in the profit ledger.

Where Celtic have an advantage this season is that they don’t have the notoriously perilous early European qualification rounds to navigate, which often hampered their early-season preparations. Postecoglou will be keen that they don’t squander that advantage though, and move quickly to bed new additions in and get them up to speed before the competitive action gets underway once again.

Two men who already know the lay of the land of course are Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota, and both of those players are expected to join the club on long-term contracts within a matter of days. If deals for both do indeed get over the line, that would represent a more than solid start to the window.

The worry for Celtic fans may well be though that the significant strengthening that will still be required over and above those two additions to give them even a puncher’s chance at the top level of the European game may be hampered by the expensive deadwood still festering around Lennoxtown.

There is no chance of recouping the fees laid out on the likes of Vasilis Barkas, Ismaila Soro and Albian Ajeti, but getting their not-insignificant salaries off of the wage bill has to be a priority, so that those funds can be better utilised elsewhere.

In a conversation with Lisbon Lions legend Jim Craig earlier this week to mark the 55th anniversary of their European Cup triumph, he told me that Celtic supporters still see their club as being up there as ‘one of the big boys’ of the continent. Even if, financially, the deck is now stacked against them.

It is a sentiment that is shared by manager Postecoglou, who you can sense has a burning desire to make an impact with the club in European competition, particularly following the disappointments of last season that represented the only black marks on a campaign that surpassed expectations by every other metric.

Postecoglou knows now that Celtic will be measured not only on domestic success, but on how his team fare in the Champions League, and his ambition to give it a go must be matched by ambition from the boardroom. If it isn’t, and Celtic end up as the proverbial lambs to the slaughter, then it is safe to assume that the ire of the fans will not be turned towards the dugout.

Celtic must be run prudently, of course, but Nicholson must avoid the perception that ultimately dogged his friend Lawwell by the end of his tenure; that a healthy bottom line meant more to him than what happened when the Celtic players crossed the white one.