IT was all about the numbers for Ange Postecoglou's Celtic.

They were few in number both on and off the park as they made the short trip across the M8 to face Hearts at Tynecastle.

Captain Callum McGregor, Yosuke Ideguchi, David Turnbull, Tom Rogic, Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda were all unavailable for selection either through injury or international duty.

Postecoglou made three changes to the side that defeated Alloa 2-1 in a bruising Scottish Cup fourth round encounter at the Recreation Park last Saturday.

New £1.5million midfield signing from MK Dons Matt O'Riley came in for a baptism of fire in the bear pit of Gorgie with James Forrest also returned to the starting XI alongside Portuguese wide man Jota.

Israeli winger Liel Abada had to be content with a place on the bench despite his wonder goal in Clackmannanshire.

It was also a massive night for Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis who had a rare opportunity to spearhead the attack.

The Celtic faithful's personal jury was still out on the hitman and this was a big chance for last season's Eredivisie's top scorer from VVV Venlo to convince any remaining doubters.

In Giakoumakis own words: his season started now.

There was even a place on the bench for young Celtic B 16-year old starlet Ben Doak, who was reputedly interesting Liverpool. The Bhoys were depleted but it was still a strong looking Celtic starting line-up that took to the Tynecastle turf.

It was the same story in the capital stands as the visitor's ticket allocation had been cut to just 1,289 spectators, a reduction of 62 per cent.

One thing you can say for Postecoglou's team and their supporters is that they are always buoyant.

The Tynecastle atmosphere was positively crackling and rocking as third entertained second in the Scottish Premiership table.

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Jota was Celtic's real livewire in the first 20 minutes as he danced down the left flank and it was he who forced Craig Gordon into a fine diving save to his right after a free-flowing move.

Edinburgh was then set alight with a goal to grace any Festival stage.

Step forward Reo Hatate. 

He took centre stage and advantage of some slack play by Nathaniel Atkinson and strolled forward and proceeded to hammer home a howitzer from 30 yards. What a way to score your first goal for your new club.

Even Postecoglou enjoyed it as he erupted with delight as the scorer ran towards his manager.

The small band of Celtic supporters in the Roseburn Stand launched into their familiar ditty of "Everywhere we go, watching Glasgow Celtic putting on a show".

Hatate was definitely the star turn, ably backed up by Jota.

On 35 minutes it was 2-0, Giakoumakis on the scoresheet for his third Celtic career goal.

O'Riley was the provider as he drilled a low one across the face of the goal and the Greek striker clinically flicked the ball home.

Celtic were putting on a show all right. This was the way Postecoglou had planned it all along. Play the football and get the goals.

By half-time, it was all falling into place for the men from Glasgow's east end. The stat that mattered most was that Celtic were two to the good.

But it was game on after 62 minutes when Liam Boyce pulled one back and the arrears were halved as the Hoops claimed offside.

On 71 minutes referee John Beaton handed Hearts a lifeline back into the contest when he penalised Nir Bitton for a careless handball in the box. Boyce slammed the spot-kick against the post and Celtic were let off the hook.

The number that mattered after 90 minutes was that the Hoops had won a gruelling fixture 2-1.

On a pulsating night in the capital, another precious and priceless three Premiership points had been banked.

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The backdrop to this fixture was particularly poignant as former Celtic boss Wim Jansen had sadly passed away from dementia in the build-up to this clash.

Speaking of numbers, it was no surprise that memories of 1998 and all that came flooding back into the Celtic supporters' consciousness.

The Dutchman spent just 12 months at the Paradise helm and won arguably the club's greatest ever Scottish Premier League title in 1997-98 thwarting Walter Smith's Rangers bid for 10-in-a-row and preserving legendary Celtic manager's Jock Stein's record of nine league wins on the spin in the process.

The similarities between both campaigns could not be avoided as the parallels were striking.

Postecoglou, like Wim, had arrived at Celtic Park from a managerial stint in Japanese football.

Both men were charged with the task of totally rebuilding their respective clubs.

Both men also had to wrestle the title from current holders Rangers.

Celtic were entering a three-game stretch against Hearts, Dundee United and Rangers which would certainly test their title credentials.

Ironically, it was the new year derby of 1998 which saw Celtic triumph 2-0 with goals from Craig Burley and Paul Lambert that narrowed the gap at the top of the table to just one point to Rangers.

It gave the men from Paradise the belief that they could finally topple the champions from their lofty perch after a decade of misery.

As fates would have it if both Celtic and Rangers take maximum points from their next league encounters then Postecoglou's men will be facing their foes a week tonight to reduce the gap at the top to, yes you've guessed it, a solitary point.

Is Scottish football history getting set to repeat itself? Strap yourself in folks.

The gap is still four points at the top of the tree. Will Hatate and Giakoumakis be Celtic's answer to Burley and Lambert on February 2?

Will Postecoglou get by with a little help from his Japanese and Greek friends? It all worked out well for Wim Jansen in the end, didn't it?

Almost a quarter of a century on, Postecoglou will be hoping that he can enjoy the Dutchman's heroic status down the Celtic Way come May after just one year in charge.