Dundee United must be sick of the sight of Celtic.
To say the Tangerines have come out of the four-match marathon against the Hoops bruised and battered is putting it mildly.
They have had a total of 10 goals fired past them and managed only one in reply in the very first match at Tannadice.
In the process, they have lost the League Cup final and been dumped out of the Scottish Cup.
Four of their players have been red-carded, albeit Paul Paton’s was rescinded and the club are trying to overturn the decision to send Ryan McGowan packing in last Wednesday’s quarter-final replay at Celtic Park.
Their striker Nadir Ciftci was cited, too, only to have his case found not proven once again.
They have faced accusations from Celtic boss Ronny Deila and forward Anthony Stokes that one of their players, Aidan Connolly, dived to win a penalty in game one.
Deila then followed that up by claiming that McGowan could have injured Celtic’s Liam Henderson “for life” with his challenge in the replay.
Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any grimmer for United, up pops their former player Gary Mackay-Steven on Saturday to add strength to the feeling among many fans that it all started to go wrong when they sold GMS and Stuart Armstrong to the Hoops in the final hours of the January transfer window.
Mackay-Steven is not the type to gloat and it was notable that his celebration was muted after he smashed a superb shot into the United net from 25 yards after 16 minutes.
Nevertheless, he showed with that goal and his general play, particularly in the first half, what a valuable player he will be to Celtic over the next few years and what a loss he will be to his old side.
All in all, the four-in-a-row have been brutal for the Tannadice club.
So where do they go from here?
There are a couple of routes they can take.
One is that the players can let everything slip away as they slide down the table and get caught by the likes of St Johnstone and, whisper it, Dundee.
Or they can use their time off during the international break to realise that they owe it to themselves, their manager, club and supporters to knock their collective pan in for the remaining matches and perhaps even finish in a Europa League spot.
Ironically, having just helped destroy United’s trophy aspirations, Celtic could have a massive say in whether or not they qualify for continental competition.
If, as seems increasingly likely, Celtic add both the Premiership crown and Scottish Cup to their League Cup then that would leave the Europa League places for those in the second, third and fourth places in the league currently Aberdeen, Inverness Caley Thistle and the Tangerines.
The reason is that the 2015-16 competition will be the first time domestic cup runners-up who have lost to Champions League entrants do not qualify for the Europa League.
So perhaps the other Tannadice players could do worse than listen to the youthful optimism of 19-year-old Blair Spittal who, instead of feeling sorry for himself on Saturday, said that United still have a big target to aim at in the weeks and months ahead.
“European football is still on the cards and we can push on from this,” said Spittal.
“It is obviously demoralising having been beaten in the last three games when there was so much belief that we could go and do it against Celtic.
“But we have to pick ourselves up and now we have a wee bit of time to reshuffle things and then go into our next league game buzzing and looking to pick up more points.
“We will move on from this and get ready for the next match.”
That is against Ross County at Tannadice on April 4.
Now the Staggies may be resurgent as they look to avoid relegation but at least they are not Celtic.
The Hoops were just too strong for the Tangerines on Saturday and the victory was straightforward for them.
Mackay-Steven helped dismantle his old side at Parkhead when he scored a cracker of an opening goal.
He then paid his ex-clubmates some respect with a subdued celebration but carried on to torment them up the right wing and had a part to play in the build-up to the home team’s second goal before John Guidetti blasted the ball into the net from the edge of the box on 33 minutes.
It was 3-0 just second before half-time when a Celtic setpiece, awarded for a foul by Paul Paton on Mackay-Steven, ricocheted round the United box before being smashed home from close range by Jason Denayer.
United had a couple of decent chances to score in the second half, one when Nadir Ciftci raced clear only to be caught by defender Virgil van Dijk and another when Ryan Dow brought a fine save out of home keeper Craig Gordon.
Spittal added: “The first half was obviously not good enough and we gave away goals that were avoidable.
“In the second I think we competed a lot better and topped Celtic from getting more goals. That’s probably the only positive we can take from it.
“Celtic are confident and when teams are confident they play well.
“I think the first goal was crucial and they got it unfortunately.
“That pushed them on.
“It didn’t really matter to us who got it. Obviously, it was a great strike from Gaz and the ball moved an incredible amount in the air.”
United boss Jackie McNamara admitted four-in-a-row against the Celts was “too much” for his side.
He said: “We played with nine men in the first game against Celtic, 10 in the final last week and on Wednesday night.
“That took its toll physically.
“This was more of a mental thing, especially in the first half. I thought we lacked belief.
“I could see a few feeling sorry for ourselves.
“I thought we were quite soft a number of times in the first half but the second was better.”
On Mackay-Steven’s rocket shot which set the home side on their way to victory, McNamara said: “It was a good strike but we should have been out a bit quicker.
“It came a through a few bodies and I don’t think our keeper Rado Cierzniak had any chance.
“Gary has that quality – we all know that – but I was disappointed with the other two goals we lost.”
While the last wee while has been miserable for United, it couldn’t have been much better for Celtic.
In the space of six days they lifted the League Cup, qualified for the Scottish Cup semi-finals and stretched their lead over Aberdeen at the top of the table to five points with a game in hand.
Manager Deila said: “It was one of the games where you feel that you have total control from the start to the end.
“The first-half performance was good and we didn’t push as hard as we could have in the second half.
“It has been a terrific week with good results and we are now in a very good situation going into the matches which come after the international break.”