This was not so much an emphatic declaration of the scope of Celtic's intent under Tony Mowbray as grim confirmation of the fundamental flaws at the heart of this Aberdeen team. There was a disconcerting ease to the way the visitors claimed a 3-0 half-time lead that reduced the remainder of the game to a matter of routine.
"It was a good start," said Mowbray of his first SPL game as Celtic manager. "But there was room for improvement in the performance. We did enough to win, but we have to set high standards."
As much as Celtic can be heartened by passages of slick, assertive attacking, the diminished, at times vapid, resistance of the home side will have given Mark McGhee a sharp pain of anxiety. Newly installed as Pittodrie manager, he was as chastened as his players seemed bedraggled.
Celtic were vitally alert on the flanks, where Aiden McGeady and Shaun Maloney spirited around with a menacing impishness. The former scored the opening two goals, forcing home from close range after Marc-Antoine Fortuné's shot had ricocheted off the goalkeeper Jamie Langfield, then shaping a curling effort into the corner from 25 yards. As if bewildered, Aberdeen allowed a third, when the sliding Richard Foster inadvertently teed up Scott McDonald in the penalty area and the striker drove high into the net.
We can see now the shape of Mowbray's vision: urgency from his two wingers either side of a calmly persuasive central midfield base. Arsenal will ask more searching questions of the defence in the Champions League qualifier on Tuesday, although Aberdeen found a brief second-half flourish as Sone Aluko volleyed Michael Paton's cross in a looping arc over Artur Boruc's head.
Glenn Loovens left early with a knee strain, making him a doubt for Tuesday, but McGhee believes Celtic can trouble Arsenal. "Celtic have a better chance than at any time in the last five years with their movement and pace," he said. "But we have a lot of work to do."Reuse content