THE more things change, the more they stay the same for Celtic. Well, in terms of the result, anyway.

A hugely altered Celtic team - Ange Postecoglou made seven changes in all to the team that beat Aberdeen – still had more than enough about them to see off Raith Rovers to book themselves a place in the last eight of the Scottish Cup, and take their run of consecutive wins to nine.

It may not have been an exhibition of the free-flowing attacking football to which the Celtic fans have become accustomed of late, but goals from Liam Scales, Giorgos Giakoumakis, Daizen Maeda and a late Nir Bitton goal - after Jamie MacDonald had saved his penalty - ensured that Celtic’s name will be in the hat for the quarter-final draw. Not that it was ever in much doubt, as they saw off their Championship opponents without ever really getting out of third gear.

If there was a disappointing aspect of the afternoon from Postecoglou’s point of view though, it may be that those given an opportunity to shine – Scales apart, perhaps – didn’t really press home a claim to trouble the starting XI on a more regular basis.

It was the starters on the wings who would disappoint the most, with both Mikey Johnston and James Forrest unable to meaningfully influence the game. The day would be doubly disappointing for Johnston, who hobbled off in the second half with what appeared to be yet another worrying injury to his leg.

A huge positive for Celtic though was the long-awaited return of Christopher Jullien after more than a year out with a knee injury, the big Frenchman finally coming on as a late substitute to a rapturous reception from the home support.

The players coming in for Celtic were Johnston, Scales, Stephen Welsh, Nir Bitton, Giakoumakis, Tom Rogic and Forrest, and there was an inevitable disruption of Celtic’s rhythm early on as a result.

It was Johnston who would threaten first, though, cutting inside and getting a shot away that had Jamie MacDonald worried before just clearing his bar.

Celtic Park was far more subdued than it has been of late, with the spectacular pyrotechnics deployed by the Green Brigade before their win over Rangers costing them access to their traditional North Curve area of the stadium for the game.

Indeed, it was the corner opposite housing the Raith Rovers fans that was in fine voice early on, loudly singing their backing for manager John McGlynn after a tumultuous few weeks for their club away from the field of play.

On the field, Celtic continued to look for the early goal, and they almost had it as Giakoumakis turned inside the area and his cross just evaded the toe of Rogic as he burst into the six-yard box.

Reo Hatate brought out the first save from MacDonald with a low effort after Celtic had won possession high up the pitch, but while Rovers had weathered the early pressure the hosts had put them under, there was a feeling it was only a matter of time before Celtic’s movement would unlock the visiting defence.

When the goal arrived though, it came from an unlikely source, and in unlikely fashion. The ball was worked from the right to left edge of the Rovers box by Rogic, where Scales stepped onto it and smacked a beauty of a strike in off MacDonald’s right-hand post.

The only real nervous moments for the Celtic fans during the first half came from goalkeeper Joe Hart seemingly fancying himself as a left-back, frequently venturing out of his goal as he took his new responsibilities to take part in the Celtic build-up to extremes.

Though, Rovers also did have a shout for a penalty as Cameron Carter-Vickers leaned into the ball and seemed to control with his left arm. Referee Steven MacLean was unmoved though, and rightly so, with the defender’s arm tight to his body.

An even louder shout then came from manager Ange Postecoglou, who exploded with rage at his men as they passed it around the back in aimless fashion. In fairness to him, you could see where his frustration was coming from, with the home players becoming a little sloppy since going ahead.

Postecoglou may have given them a rocket at half-time, and the second half almost had lift off as Johnston squared for Giakoumakis to crack off the face of the bar from close range. The offside flag went up in any case, but worse news was to follow for Celtic as Johnston as clearly struggling as he slowly got back to his feet.

He struggled on for a few minutes before limping off to be replaced by Jota, as the 22-year-old’s incredible run of bad luck with injuries continues.

Raith made some changes of their own as they came out of their shell a little, managing to cause one or two murmurs of concern from the home faithful. But in doing so, they also left space in behind for Celtic to exploit. They duly did to kill the tie.

A long ball down the left sent Jota scarpering away, and the winger got his head up to pick out Giakoumakis standing in acres of space in the middle, where he duly tucked the ball away low past MacDonald.

Soon after, substitute Liel Abada floated in a corner that was nodded on by Carter-Vickers to Maeda, who managed to smuggle the ball over the line from close range despite the attentions of MacDonald to give the scoreline a more accurate reflection of Celtic’s dominance.

All that was left was to welcome Jullien back into the fray, replacing Carter-Vickers for the last 15 minutes or so, and to see if Celtic could add to their tally.

Thanks to a hand from Sean Mackie – literally – they did just that, as he was penalised for stopping Jota’s shot illegally. Luckily for him, given he was already on a caution, referee McLean somehow mixed him up with teammate Ross Matthews, and booked him instead.

Bitton stepped up to take, MacDonald saved low to his left, but the midfielder’s scuffed rebound bounced over the prone keeper and in.

It rather typified the day for Celtic. Job done, even if it wasn’t in typically attractive fashion.