SATURDAY’S goalless draw at Easter Road was notable for a few reasons from a Celtic perspective. For one, they dropped points, a rarity so far this season, with the only other black mark against their name in the 10 games they have now played also being a stalemate against St Johnstone.

The late winner that we have come to expect, and that some Celtic players admitted afterwards they too felt was coming, never arrived either. Though, had James Forrest placed a late volley an inch or so lower, he would have delivered it, instead of crashing the ball off the crossbar.

But perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the sighting of Mikey Johnston, remerging into the light from a Celtic hibernation that had stretched over 19 months, taking in a loan spell at Vitoria Guimares and caps for the Republic of Ireland.

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Such was the need for Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers to freshen up his attack. Luis Palma, who previously occupied the left flank, had perhaps looked the player most affected by the midweek exertions against Atletico Madrid, though the leggy Paulo Bernardo could also stake a claim.

And in fairness to Johnston, he probably did more in his half hour or so than Palma had managed in his 60-odd minutes on the park, or that Daizen Maeda did on the other flank, for that matter.

But the fact that Celtic are still turning to the likes of Johnston and veteran Forrest in such situations speaks volumes for the lack of real strength in depth in some areas of their squad. They finished the match without any of their summer signings on the field, hinting that their business in the last window delivered a great deal of quantity, but little in the way of real game-changing quality.

As for Johnston, he seems perennially at a Celtic crossroads. He is now 24, and while injuries have clearly affected his career to date, we are still waiting to see if he will ever truly establish himself as a first team player at the club.

His confidence too, might well be fragile. He has become one of the poster boys for fan disgruntlement when things aren’t quite going to plan, and seemed to cop a great deal more flak from the stand behind the goal than Palma may have when he tried something that didn’t come off.

Sadly, at present it seems he is likelier to remain a scapegoat than become a Celtic starter, though teammate Greg Taylor isn’t giving up hope on the winger just yet.

He recognises, as it is plain for all to see, that there is definitely a player in there. And he has urged Johnston to use the example of Liam Scales, who has seized the opportunity that has saved him from his own exile in Celtic Siberia, as his inspiration.

“It shows you it can happen,” Taylor said.

“But equally, you’ve got to want it, you’ve got to work, you’ve got to show that you are ready when the manager calls upon you.

“That goes for us all whether you play 20 games a season, 60 games a season or five. You’ve got to take the opportunity when it comes. That’s the life of a squad.

“He’s got bags of ability Mikey. One v one in training, he’s right up there with the best. You see his performances for Ireland, they’ve been very strong as well.

“So, Mikey’s got ability. It’s just about delivering on a consistent level. If he does that in training, then he’ll get the opportunity in games. There is a top player there.

“He’s had a tough time with injuries although I think he got a relatively consistent run in Portugal last year.

“He’s ben fit pretty much all of this season although certainly he missed a chunk of pre-season.

“He’s getting consistency [with fitness]. That’s what Mikey needs to do – get the training time in and wait on his opportunity. And take it when it comes.”

He may not quite have done that on Saturday, but he did enough to perhaps earn another chance in the packed schedule over the next few weeks.

And some of the other fringe men will have to step up to the plate too, after Rodgers’ decision to stick with the team who had taken on Atletico Madrid – save for Bernardo, who had replaced Reo Hatate after seven minutes during the week – resulting in a lethargic showing.

“It's difficult when you have the emotion of the night, a big game, a lot of energy put into it,” Taylor said.

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“But that is the pressure of this club, you have to do it every week. To be honest, I just don't think we found our level quickly enough against Hibs.

"You are tired, of course you are, but very rarely do you go into a game feeling 100 per cent. We know we have more than enough quality and strength in that squad that we should have gone to Easter Road and got the three points. But equally, you don't have any right.

“That was a good Hibs team, I thought they played some good football. They were trying to play football the right way. But if you can't win, then certainly don't lose."

As for Hibs, the clean sheet was rather unexpected after the four goals they shipped against Rangers at Ibrox the previous week, and it was one in the eye for the naysayers who argued that if Nick Montgomery remained stubbornly wedded to his preferred 4-4-2 formation, it would end in another hounding.

David Marshall was central to avoiding that, with a first half save from Maeda the most impressive of his stops, but he is also adapting to the less familiar demands that his new manager is putting upon him.

“It was massive, after losing four goals last weekend, to keep a clean sheet,” Marshall said.

“It’s difficult to explain that we didn’t play that badly at Ibrox, kept a lot of possession. But it’s difficult when you concede four, your heads go down.

“We had a full week to focus on Celtic, which obviously they didn’t have, with playing on Wednesday.

“We knew what we wanted to do. And I think the fullbacks and wingers were key to that. It’s a hard shift in those positions because Celtic have got some real pace and quality out wide. The fullbacks, especially, were brilliant.

“It’s a real test of concentration, 100 per cent, and we passed it. Since the manager has come in, he’s asked a lot from us. Changing formation. Changing personnel at times, too.

“So, to keep that clean sheet was good, because we conceded a couple of Tynecastle and then four at Ibrox.

“Keeping Celtic goalless builds belief and builds momentum.”