Celtic began the defence of their Scottish Cup with only one man who walked away with a medal last May, but still possessed more than enough class to demolish Alloa Athletic here last night.
Yet that could not disguise how much the evening meant to Morten Wieghorst, who has fought back from a life-threatening brain virus and whose goal in this third-round rout received the acclaim normally reserved for cup final winners.
Though few at Celtic underplay how far Martin O'Neill has taken the club since that dark evening when Inverness Caledonian Thistle inflicted an ignominious defeat two years ago in this competition, the sight of eight changes to the usual line-up brought a shiver of anxiety from some of their supporters.
However, Celtic soon made their class tell. Bobo Balde moved forward as Jackie McNamara cut the ball back into his path in the 19th minute, and crashed a 25-yard shot which deceived Alloa's goalkeeper, Derek Soutar. Celtic doubled their lead just before half-time, when Wieghorst headed beyond Soutar for his first goal in three illness-stricken years.
At the break O'Neill allowed Jamie Smith a chance to join in the action. The teenager made his presence felt in the 56th minute, providing a cross which picked out Shaun Maloney and the 18-year-old's glancing header flew past Soutar for Celtic's third. Celtic found the net again in the 75th minute. Wieghorst began the move before Bobby Petta skipped past three tackles and poked the ball home.
Mohammed Sylla then scored his first goal for Celtic in the 83rd minute when he ruthlessly finished off Smith's corner from close range to conclude Alloa's torment.
Alloa Athletic (3-5-2): Soutar; Valentine, Thomson, Watson (Walker, 60); Hamilton, Christie, Fisher, Little, Cowan; Whelan (Evans, 56), Hutchison (Curran, 68). Substitutes: Knox, Evans (gk).
Celtic (3-5-2): Gould; Boyd, Balde (Healy, 60), Tébily; McNamara, Wieghorst, Petrov (Smith, 46), Guppy, Petta; Sylla, Maloney. Subsitutes: Lambert, Moravcik, Douglas (gk).
Referee: M McCurry.
* Jim McLean returned to the Dundee United board of directors yesterday in a takeover which saw Scott Carnegie become the new chairman. McLean, the club's former chairman and manager, may now face charges from the Scottish football authorities relating to an assault on a BBC reporter in October 2000. His subsequent resignation as chairman meant that the incident was not investigated.Reuse content