The television-ordained lunchtime kick-off for Hibernian and Celtic may have clashed with traditional ways, but the compensation was the production of a game which could well have fitted in as a cup tie in mid-season.
These two clubs are, in a way, bonded by differing degrees of desperation. Hibs' aim is simply to survive in this league and Celtic have the perennial objective of overcoming their nemesis on the other side of Glasgow.
Not surprisingly, the initial frantic stages had the look of two sides deeply conscious of this. The professed ambition of the new Dutch coach, Wim Jansen, is to introduce Celtic to a more cerebral type of football, but possession must have looked to him like a luxurious self-indulgence when Darren Jackson and Andreas Thom were scythed down within a couple of minutes.
But the most bitter irony for Celtic was the fact that 34-year-old Chic Charnley of Hibs, who would have sold his granny to play for the Parkhead side, lent the game the poise and creativity which Celtic lacked in midfield and went on to score a winning goal which demonstrated how the mind can stay fresh while the legs are obviously wearying. The main outlet for his constant involvement was the Trinidadian international winger Tony Rougier, whose runs on both wings tormented the Celtic defence.
Even though Celtic had more possession in the first 20 minutes, it was Rougier's involvement which promised danger, and so it turned out in the 24th minute when he left Alan Stubbs stranded and swept over a cross which was pounced upon by Lee Power as the defence hesitated.
The Celtic response was typical. They came back strongly five minutes later and, from a Simon Donnelly corner, Malky Mackay brought the scores level.
In the second half, Celtic could not maintain their vitality and, even though they had been warned in the first half about Charnley's prowess, he was allowed another opportunity in the 75th minute after a disastrous pass from the Celtic substitute, Henrik Larsson. Charnley controlled it before launching a magnificent 25-yard shot past Gordon Marshall.
Goals: Power 24 (1-0); Mackay 29 (1-1); Charnley (75) 2-1.
Hibernian (4-4-2): Gottskalksson; W Miller, Hughes, Welsh, Adjovi-Bocco; Charnley, Dow, Power (G Miller, 84), McGinlay; Crawford (Tosh, 89), Rougier. Substitute not used: Grant.
Celtic (4-4-2): Marshall; McNamara, Boyd, Stubbs, McKinlay (Wieghorst, 81); Mackay, Burley, Jackson, Thom (Larsson, 59); Johnson, Donnelly. Substitute not used: Hannah.
Bookings: Hibernian Crawford, Rougier. Celtic Boyd.
Referee: W Young (Clarkston).
Man of the match: Charnley.
Attendance: 13,051.Reuse content