"Good luck today boys," said the Rangers fan from across the street. "We could do with a challenge this year."

Fast forward two hours, and Martin O'Neill had marked his Glasgow derby debut with a humbling 6-2 victory. Fast forward nine months, and the Irishman had wrapped his first season at Celtic with a domestic treble.

I was 14 years old when the above exchange unfolded. Having arrived home from a two-week holiday late the previous evening, both my dad and I had forgotten that our usual parking spot at Celtic Park, just along from Springfield Road, was where the travelling Rangers supporters buses parked ahead of the derby at that time.

And so on Sunday, August 27, 2000, we walked to the match rubbing shoulders with the wrong company.

To be fair, the above exchange itself was trivial and without malice. It was simply a fan of the opposite side offering a harmless, tongue-in-cheek and self-indulgent barb.

But born in 1986 myself, and having started following Celtic in the early '90s, that single and seemingly innocuous encounter was in fact an inadvertent watershed moment in my own Celtic journey.

I was just nine years old when Tommy Burns' side lifted the Scottish Cup in 1995, and so I believe my excitement then was more a reflection of my father's than my own. When Celtic stopped the 10 in '98, I was ecstatic – but to then finish second the following season and the one after that again took the wind out of my sails.

I couldn't possibly have imagined the score line come full-time that afternoon in August 2000, nor could I have understood the magnitude of Henrik Larsson's cultured chip over Stefan Klos.

Many fans expected new manager O'Neill to overhaul the existing set-up at the turn of the millennium, but few would have predicted a domestic clean sweep upon first asking.

Just the thought of a European final less than two years on from there was more or less unthinkable.

Brendan Rodgers with the Scottish CupBrendan Rodgers with the Scottish Cup (Image: SNS)
I'm well aware of how old I sound when I lament the club's lack of success during the '90s. I sound like my dad when his generation bemoans the barren '50s – and while the 2000s were never going to follow the previous decade's drought with a European Cup a la 1967, what Celtic have achieved this century is nothing short of incredible.

Last month's Scottish Cup triumph marked Celtic's 40th of the 21st century, in turn making the club the most decorated in Europe since O'Neill's treble-winning trail in 2000/01.

With an impressive 18 league titles, 12 Scottish Cups and 10 League Cups accrued in that time, Celtic's 40-trophy total stands at three more than Bayern Munich, and 12 more than both Real Madrid and Barcelona. These teams have won the Champions League multiple times over the last quarter-century, granted, but Celtic's haul is phenomenal all the same.

To the point where I still struggle to fully comprehend the dominance Celtic have enjoyed over the last 24 years.

Having become so used to valiant, yet ultimately unsuccessful campaigns in my formative years, a totally different millennium ago, I still habitually consider Celtic underdogs and have never been able to grow too attached to the rampant success the club has enjoyed – over the last 12 or so years especially.

For the most part, I see this as a good thing. It maintains a level of humility, and a sense of humbleness year-after-year.

None of this is to suggest younger fans are spoiled or are too used to modern success – a semi-prevalent rhetoric that pervades online discourse – but it's more to encourage fans of my generation that may share the same tortured complex, or indeed fans of any generation who feel similarly, to stop and smell the roses.

Here's hoping another disappointing stretch akin to the '50s or the '90s will never occur again, but in the here and now, 40 major honours in 24 years is a stat worth shouting about from the rooftops.

Or at least across the road to a rival fan who longed for a challenge.