For all the pre-match talk of football slapping you in the face, preferring to go down swinging and all the rest of it, Celtic were far more about brains than brawn against AZ Alkmaar. It’s true.

How else to describe Tom Rogic’s cross? Or Kyogo Furuhashi’s finish? Or David Turnbull’s pass?

How else to describe Ange Postecoglou’s style in general? Because if we’re going with boxing as the analogy then there’s no chance Celtic are just slugging away in the hopes of landing more than their opponent.

No, they’re more like a boxer-puncher. A Josh Taylor. A Manny Pacquiao. They make the centre of the ring their own, but they're clever about it. They’re a team that knows who they are, what they’re doing and how to impose their style relentlessly. A team imbibed with a fearless belief.

And with Postecoglou it’s not just about identifying the gaps waiting to be exploited in the other corner’s armour, it’s about creating new ones for yourself during the fight too.

How else to describe Anthony Ralston’s shimmy? Or Stephen Welsh’s marauding bursts forward? Or Callum McGregor’s… well, everything?

Not that this fearless belief can’t be tested. Celtic’s was, more than once, against a tidy AZ side at Parkhead.

Will this new-look Celtic side get caught occasionally, a well-timed jab from an opponent slipping through amid the offensive onslaught? Sure, just look at AZ’s chances. Or the Hearts game. It's bound to happen, especially against sides with decent wingers. Styles make fights after all. 

But the key lies in not letting those shots put you down on the canvas. That’s something Celtic will face often under Postecoglou and, last night, it was something they overcame with resilient aplomb.

“We're in the midst of a really heavy programme of football and we keep going to the well with the guys and they keep producing. It's outstanding,” as the manager said himself afterwards.

“The spirit they showed tonight when physically a few of them were running on empty is a great sign for the future.

“The players showed tremendous will and spirit to keep trying to play our football.

“It's one thing wanting to play beautiful football but you've got to roll your sleeves up and show resilience. We did that, we had to at times. We knew we had to because they (AZ) are a good team.

READ MORE: Detailed Celtic player ratings as Anthony Ralston, Stephen Welsh and Joe Hart come up trumps in 2-0 win over AZ Alkmaar

"The key to that is we didn't yield our football or try to change anything we were doing. We had to be brave on the ball and I thought we were.”

We didn’t yield our football. That’s the long and short of it right there. Celtic did not let AZ’s blows put them down.

Whether it was Joe Hart’s saves, Welsh’s blocks or Ralston’s clearances, the defence kept their guard up while the attack probed at those gaps they’d created and the team got the rewards for that with a clean sheet and a victory.

Some might call it riding their luck, I prefer to think on it simply as rolling with the punches.

New signing or not, Hart gets what it's all about too. Though, to be fair, they all seem to. There’s a collective acknowledgement that this is now the way Celtic play, especially on the attack. It’s high-tempo, high-octane and, above all, high-quality.

Following the win, the Celtic goalkeeper made a point of mentioning how much work goes into being prepared enough to not just execute, but stick with, Postecoglou’s style when faced with an opponent who clearly has the bit between their teeth.

“There’s a mixture of beautiful football and hard work and dedication,” Hart said post-match. “We really stepped up. We were brave and we believed in what the manager wanted us to do.

“It’s tough football. It’s high-intensity and the boys are putting their bodies on the line every couple of days. They really did stand up to the test.”

Of course, if this Celtic team really were a boxer and this really was a bout, we would have reached only the midway point.

It’s not over yet – Dutch midfielder Dani De Wit said as much right after the match – but AZ now know they need to land that knockout blow in the second leg or it’s Ange Postecoglou’s men who will be leaving the arena with their hands raised in victory, a place in the group stage their prize.