By any gauge you choose to measure them by, Celtic are a stronger team this season than they were last.
They also dominated their Premiership match against St Johnstone last month and won pretty comfortably in the end.
But Ange Postecoglou’s side are still very much a work in progress.
And you can be sure Callum Davidson will have taken note of the type of goals scored against them.
Courier Sport takes a detailed look at the nine conceded in the league to discover where Saints can attempt to gain an advantage at the national stadium.
Crosses, crosses and more crosses
Of those nine conceded, every single one of them has begun with a cross into the box.
That’s an incredibly high percentage – albeit from the lowest goals against total in the top flight.
“If St Johnstone can ask enough questions and get enough crosses into the box it will be pivotal regarding whether they can win the tie or not.”
It will surely be the foundation of the St Johnstone game plan.
Start on the left, finish on the right
Five of the goals have been scored in open play, four of them as a consequence of crosses from the left.
You don’t need to be a fly on the wall of a Davidson pre-match squad meeting to come to the conclusion that seeking to extend that trend will be a key tactic.
In fact, if there’s a goal against Celtic that perfectly fits the mould of the type they are still vulnerable to, it’s the one Saints scored at McDiarmid Park in February.
Callum Booth picking out Shaun Rooney with a ball to the back post will surely be in Davidson’s plan A.
And the further good news is, Celtic let in two from left side cross-balls in their last game against Dundee.
It’s a blow for Saints that Cammy MacPherson is cup-tied because his delivery of a dead-ball could have been a valuable weapon at Hampden.
Liam Gordon’s goal from MacPherson’s corner was the Perth side’s first of the season from a set-piece.
They don’t have another player who can get similar whip and dip.
However, all four of the set-piece goals Celtic lost have been from opposition players attacking a hung-up cross rather than an in-swinger.
💥 A captains goal from Jason Kerr puts @StJohnstone 1-0 up!
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) January 23, 2021
David Wotherspoon certainly has that in his locker (the Jason Kerr opener against Hibs in last year’s League Cup semi-final springs to mind) and it’s one of the reasons I would expect him to start.
Wotherspoon and Booth need to shine again
If Wotherspoon does get the nod, his relationship with Booth, which began in the Hibs academy and fully blossomed at Hampden when the pair combined to set-up Rooney for his Scottish Cup final winner, needs to flourish again.
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) May 22, 2021
Both men are potential creators – the former with the traditional left-back’s cross that produced that goal against Celtic last season and the latter with the type of right-footed in-swinger from the left that caught the Hoops out at Dens a couple of weeks ago.
Anthony Ralston deserves all the praise coming his way for becoming an unlikely Celtic first team regular and a Scotland squad man.
But Wotherspoon will know his game inside-out from Ralston’s one-year loan with Saints and has the football intelligence (as does Booth) to expose mobility and positional doubts that still remain.
Ali Crawford is another smart player with quick feet.
The hard bit will be getting the ball into areas of the pitch often enough to expose Celtic’s Achilles heel, of course.
If that can be done, Saints have the players to spear it.