This match offered Celtic an occasion to savour a reunion with Lambert, who left during the summer after eight years at Parkhead. Strachan had insisted that the man who captained Celtic at the 2003 Uefa Cup final could be shown no sentiment, and that philosophy was extended to another of Martin O'Neill's old guard.
John Hartson found himself dropped, hinting that Strachan favours a more fluent game played on the turf than the direct approach of his predecessor. Hartson may have been top scorer but his performances of late have been mediocre.
So Craig Beattie was given the chance to partner Maciej Zurawski, the Polish striker, and Beattie set up an early chance for Shunsuke Nakamura, whose fierce shot was beaten to safety by goalkeeper Roddy McKenzie.
However, Livingston displayed an organisation that belied their bottom club status and Lambert's side almost opened Celtic up on two occasions as Paul Dalglish and Graham Barrett came close.
Celtic continued to play with a stylish character, as Nakamura curled a free-kick just wide and Stilian Petrov bent a shot narrowly past the post, but Strachan's team knew they had to come up with an end product too.
They did in 36 minutes, although the route was the tried-and-tested set piece. Shaun Maloney's corner was glanced on by Chris Sutton for Stephen McManus to thump in a header at the back post.
However, the contrast with the second goal just before half-time could not have been greater. It had the flowing football that Strachan is looking for. Petrov and Nakamura combined for the latter to thread a pass into Beattie's run and he found Maloney, who spun and drilled a right-foot shot past McKenzie.
That goal was the signal for Celtic to turn the screw in the second half. Zurawski stretched the lead further in the 51st minute when he finished off yet another flowing move, after Beattie supplied Mo Camara on the left for the full-back's cross to be met by the Pole, whose glancing header flew past McKenzie.
Things got worse for Lambert 11 minutes later as Sutton made it 4-0. Maloney's free-kick on the edge of the box broke off the wall to the unmarked Sutton, whose right-foot volley found the roof of the net.
Celtic then scored a fifth in the 72nd minute. This was a ruthless counter-attack, which relied upon Maloney's vision before Camara was given the room to hit a low cross which McKenzie fumbled and Beattie tapped into the unguarded goal.Reuse content