FOR some, Brendan Rodgers’ return to Celtic was something of a damp squib. After a failure to launch in August following defeat to Kilmarnock in the Viaplay Cup and a 0-0 stalemate against St Johnstone on Premiership duty, Celtic finally capitalised on Rangers’ early league defeat at the scene of Celtic’s League Cup calamity when they defeated their city rivals 1-0 in the season’s first derby at Ibrox last weekend.

That hard-fought victory, in a severely partisan environment and taking into account the injury issues Rodgers has been facing since the onset of his second spell as manager, could ignite the engines on Celtic’s season.

Glasgow Times: Brendan Rodgers celebrates with Oh Hyeon-gyuBrendan Rodgers celebrates with Oh Hyeon-gyu (Image: SNS)READ MORE: Rodgers hits out at Man United fans for 'creating' Harry Maguire noise

We’ve all heard of the difficult second album, and Rodgers has a job on his hands even to simply replicate the spectacular domestic record he achieved first time out. His decision to return to Parkhead can be viewed as the kind of safe landing the Apollo 13 astronauts must have been dreaming of as they looked out their windscreens at the dark side of the moon.

I’m not so sure Dave Gilmour or Roger Waters had the future Celtic manager in mind when penning the material for their seminal record of that name, but perhaps its final track, Eclipse, offers a prophetic, prog-rock-infused portent of what is to come.

The only way for Rodgers to eclipse his near-perfect first Celtic stint is to improve on his mixed European record. Yes, there were highlights during his first spell, notably creditable Champions League draws against Premier League powerhouse Manchester City home and away in his first season in charge in 2016, as well as a superb 3-0 victory away to Anderlecht the following year.  But even if you include his solitary campaign at Europe’s top table with Liverpool in 2014/15, the Northern Irishman’s record makes for grim reading: P18, W2, D5, L11.

Included amongst those miserable liner notes are heavy defeats to the likes of Barcelona (7-0) and Paris Saint-Germain (5-0, 7-1). Most dismal amongst that set-list, which reads like a 12-minute synth solo in B-minor, is the solitary point amassed at Celtic Park in six outings under Rodgers.

Previous incumbents Martin O’Neill, Gordon Strachan and Neil Lennon had turned the great Parkhead arena into such a fortress that even the mightiest teams in Europe of those respective eras – Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Barcelona and AC Milan – shuddered at the prospect of visiting the east end of Glasgow.

Glasgow Times: Shunsuke Nakamura's sensational free-kick secured a momentous win over Man United in 2006Shunsuke Nakamura's sensational free-kick secured a momentous win over Man United in 2006 (Image: SNS)READ MORE: Ange Postecoglou nominated for elite award alongside Pep Guardiola

Rodgers must mend this broken record during his second spell in charge. The severity of defeats to the likes of Barcelona and PSG were, arguably, avoidable at the time – with an apparent stubbornness to stick to his tried and trusted high press and attacking philosophy leaving Celtic open to ruthless, diamond-encrusted forward lines boasting the talents of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Edinson Cavani.

Four wins in 10 Europa League outings with Celtic following those Champions League humblings was a marked improvement, while six wins and four draws in 14 matches in the same competition with Leicester demonstrates a crescendo of improving results. Even in his flagging final season with the Foxes in 2021/22, Rodgers managed to reach the semi-final of European competition – albeit it was the baby sibling the Europa Conference League – while missing out on a place in the showpiece final to Jose Mourinho’s Roma outfit by a single goal would be no disgrace to any side, let alone one languishing near the relegation places in their domestic table.

Those experiences will have burnished Rodgers with a wealth of continental savvy he can apply to Celtic this time around. And as the engines roar in the build-up to Tuesday night’s Champions League Group E blast-off against Feyenoord in Rotterdam, the manner of the recent Premiership victory against Rangers at Ibrox could be a significant indication of that pragmatism being introduced by a manager who generally stuck to his attacking guns during his first spell in Glasgow.

The Northern Irishman managed to mastermind a gameplan where that makeshift central pairing of Gustaf Lagerbielke and Liam Scales absorbed much of the pressure placed on them by Rangers’ revolving door of attacking options, while offering a significant threat on the break: Kyogo Furuhashi’s beautifully executed volley finish for the winner a case in point.

Glasgow Times: Kyogo Furuhashi scores at IbroxKyogo Furuhashi scores at Ibrox (Image: SNS)READ MORE: Liel Abada Celtic injury fears confirmed by Brendan Rodgers

Celtic’s first Champions League encounter on Tuesday against free-scoring Feyenoord (Arne Slot's side have scored 13 goals in their first four Eredivisie matches this season, with young Mexican striker Santiago Gimenez a particularly potent threat) will be a significantly more onerous task. But with the same dogged approach and attention to detail in the transitions, there’s nothing to stop Rodgers securing a positive result.

Glasgow Times: Santiago Giménez of Feyenoord celebratesSantiago Giménez of Feyenoord celebrates (Image: Getty)

Closer to home, a return to Premiership action tomorrow at Celtic Park against newly promoted Dundee represents a must-win match. After consecutive Saturday Premiership fixtures away to Livingston and Motherwell, Rodgers will then face that first home game of the group stage under the Parkhead lights against pot-three side Lazio. This will be another marker of the impact he has managed to make since his return – and securing his first-ever Champions League win at Celtic Park would pour rocket fuel on the excitement levels around his second debut campaign.

Celtic should be targeting four points from those first two group-stage encounters before hosting the section’s top seeds Atletico Madrid at the end of October if the mission to remain in Europe after Christmas is to be completed. Should Rodgers achieve that aim, he will have parachuted back to ground smoothly with every chance of eclipsing what he managed first time around. The countdown has well and truly begun.