It is a mark of how far standards have fallen at Celtic that Neil Lennon saw fit to use the words “top” and “drawer” to describe his team’s performance at McDiarmid Park.
And it is a mark of how far they have risen at St Johnstone since the turn of the year that Callum Davidson will feel this was one that got away.
The third contest of the season between these sides saw the Hoops produce better football than in matches one and two.
However, the bar is low. Green and white waves of attack when the soon to be former champions come to town are a thing of the past.
By taking the lead through Shaun Rooney early in the second half, Saints exposed the vulnerability that remains close to the surface in the current Celtic team.
And by allowing their defensive line to be breached twice in the space of three minutes not long after, the Perth side didn’t give that self-doubt a chance to properly fester.
Odsonne Edouard showed his class on both occasions but the second goal in particular was a throwback to the early months of this league campaign from a Perth perspective when defending the penalty box was a recurring issue, rather than recent ones.
It would have been a stretch to say Saints deserved to win but they did merit a second draw against Celtic in succession.
Scott Tanser has picked up a slight hamstring strain so was replaced by Callum Booth. That was one of three changes to the team which beat Livingston last weekend, with Craig Conway and Craig Bryson also returning.
Saints started brightly enough and managed to play the game in the Celtic half in the early stages.
There weren’t any chances to show for it, though. David Wotherspoon shooting over from 20 yards out was as good as it got.
As the first half progressed, the improvement in the Celtic team over the last couple of weeks became increasingly apparent.
They were the side playing the quick pass and move football, with their Perth opponents looking a bit ponderous in comparison.
The best opportunity of the opening 45 fell to Tom Rogic just after the half-hour mark when an Edouard ball across the face of goal found its way to him at the back post. Rogic beat Zander Clark with his low shot but Booth was in the right place to clear off the line.
Saints were hanging on a bit at that point and their midfield was far too spread out when David Turnbull drove through the heart of it a couple of minutes later before firing his left foot shot over.
The good news was that Clark only had one save of note to make – keeping out a Ryan Christie long-range effort – but nonetheless, Davidson would have been glad to get his players into the dressing room with the scoreline blank.
Conway missed a golden chance to put Saints in front the last time Celtic were at McDiarmid Park.
The shot he scuffed when he was picked out by Rooney a couple of minutes after the restart was silver or bronze in comparison to that open goal he missed back in October but he should have forced a save out of Scott Bain at the very least.
There was no time to fret about what might have been, however, as Saints were in front seconds later.
Booth set up Rooney with a floated cross from the left for the sort of powerful header into the back of the net that is becoming his trademark.
The right-back carries the threat of an old fashioned number nine when the delivery is up to standard and he was claiming a penalty when Shane Duffy was climbing on his back not long after the opener.
Referee Steven McLean saw no foul.
From putting themselves in a position to claim a famous victory, within three minutes just after the hour, Saints were 2-1 down.
The first Edouard goal was a top quality near post finish to dispatch Ryan Christie’s cross but the second from the same man could have been defended better, with neither Clark nor Booth quick to react to a heavy first touch from the Frenchman.
This still felt like a game Saints could salvage a point from and an excellent ball from Conway into the danger area was begging for an attacking touch before Scott Brown was able to clear.
With 20 minutes left Davidson sent on Stevie May and Glenn Middleton for Conway and Chris Kane.
Referee McLean certainly wasn’t winning any friends in the home team, turning down a couple of decent free-kick shouts near the Celtic penalty box.
Middleton was Saints’ liveliest player in the closing minutes, forcing a corner and sending over a couple of low and hard crosses but Celtic held on for their narrow victory.