With Ross County desperate for a win, it’s fair to say Sunday’s visitors Celtic are not the opponents they would have picked to face next.
The Staggies have encountered a sticky period following an initially bright start to their first campaign back in the Premiership, with their last win coming away to Motherwell on September 21.
The most chastening experience of the Staggies’ eight-game winless streak came when they last faced Celtic, when a passive display was brutally punished by a 6-0 hammering by Neil Lennon’s men on October 19. And it could easily have been more.
County will be desperate to avoid a similarly heavy defeat, with the Staggies bound to be placing emphasis on halting a habit which has seen them leak more goals than any other Premiership side this season.
There is the added factor that Celtic’s already-guaranteed place in the Europa League last-32 beyond the turn of the year means Lennon can put more advance focus on their trip to the Highlands following their group stage match with Rennes.
Yet the visit of the Hoops could perversely offer County an element of respite from the heat which is starting to mount in a bottom half scrap – which sees seventh-placed County sit just three points above bottom side St Johnstone.
The pressure is almost entirely off County in this match. The ruthlessness with which the Hoops and rivals Rangers have swept aside just about everything put in front of them this season indicates that these are not the matches that will determine County’s season.
Anything the Dingwall men can salvage against the league leaders will be a bonus. Perhaps more importantly, a gutsy performance against one of the best sides in the country could spark confidence ahead of a run of upcoming games where precious points are more realistically attainable.
County have shown in flashes this season they have plenty to contribute to Scotland’s top flight this season, but clearly they did not do themselves justice against Celtic last time around.
Quickly putting that right on Sunday is an opportunity Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson will be determined to take, as they look to showcase the capabilities of their side in front of a capacity Victoria Park crowd and the television cameras.
As the old adage goes, County have nothing to lose.