In the Land of the Rising Sun, the prodigal son returned to his old stomping ground.

They love Daizen Maeda around these parts and he certainly didn't disappoint on his return to the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama. Not for the first time, a Japanese striker at Celtic grabbed the limelight and all of the headlines. The only difference on this occasion was that it wasn't the name of Kyogo Furuhashi on everybody's lips.

It was Maeda whose star shone the brightest in Japan as he bagged a first-half hat-trick during Celtic's 6-4 pre-season loss to Yokohama F. Marinos as the Brendan Rodgers era properly got up and running. Celtic were schooled in the art of giving away cheap goals as the J1 League champions hit the Hoops with six of their best. Valuable and salutary lessons are always learned in friendly matches.

It was a performance where being disjointed and deliberation were the order of the day for Celtic. Sticking with 'd' words Rodgers may well be of the opinion that Celtic's buzzword in the transfer market in the coming weeks before the Scottish Premiership season starts in earnest is defenders. You could possibly throw a new goalkeeper into that mix too.

If the 50-year-old wants to make the kind of impact in Europe that Celtic so desperately crave, then the concession of six goals in the searing Japanese heat will have already given the him much food for thought.

READ MORE: Celtic v Yokohama F. Marinos analysis as Maeda shines in defeat

The treble holders' undoing last season at the top table of European football in the Champions League was their inability to keep the ball out of their net. Some 15 goals were shipped over six group matches to Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk as Celtic finished bottom of the group with two points and just four goals scored.

The Celtic fans could be forgiven for thinking that they were experiencing a sense of deja-vu during this outing in Yokohama as some of the defending was, for want of a better word or expression - shambolic. Joe Hart dropped a clanger for the first, Greg Taylor was uncharacteristically slack for the second, Carl Starfelt was guilty of making a right hash of it when he was robbed of possession for Marinos' third goal, whilst the sixth saw more poor passing from Alexandro Bernabei clinically punished.

Add into the mix an injury for defender Yuki Kobayashi and Rodgers will certainly be aware that there is still lots of work to do ahead of the opening day Scottish Premiership clash against Ross County.

If you canvassed any Celtic supporters and asked them for their opinions, then they would probably say that the area of the side that needed to be strengthed the most is the defence. Put simply, it needs to be bolstered. A new left-back or centre-back, anyone?

Yes, Yokohama F. Marinos represented a step up in opposition and class for Celtic and whilst Rodgers spoke of levels of intensity before the game and it was only really visible in fits and starts during this match. Having said all of that there were some real positives for Celtic. So let's focus on them, shall we?

Maeda's treble. The striker was in blistering form and looked as sharp as a tack against his former employers but he still ain't ousting Kyogo from the starting position - is he?

READ MORE: Why Celtic's transfer model must continue to develop - Alan Morrison

In fact, Maeda at one point was thinking of changing his name to Maedona such was his rampant display in the opening 45 minutes as Celtic from middle-to-front looked good and were worthy of their 3-2 lead at the break. The highlight of Maeda's virtuoso performance was actually an audacious first-time chip attempt from 35 yards that was turned behind by the Marinos goalkeeper but it was a great piece of improvisation by the striker.

The 25-year-old scored 11 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions last season. He was a mainstay in Celtic's treble-winning side and alongside his striking compatriot Kyogo, the duo signed new four-year deals in the summer. The Japan international, who also played at last year's World Cup, joined the Hoops from Yokohama F. Marinos on loan in December 2021, with his move becoming permanent last summer.

If this performance is anything to go by, then he will plunder goals-a-plenty for the men in green and white in the up-and-coming campaign. Japanese midfielder Reo Hatate also looked imperious at times, especially in the opening 45 minutes.

At times he laid on a masterclass and showed real strength and ability not only to break up the play but then execute the perfect defence-splitting pass as illustrated with the slide-ruler that released Liel Abada for Celtic's equaliser to make it 1-1. Last season's Player of the Year contender possesses sublime and superb vision and can unlock the tightest of back doors. When Hatate ticks, Celtic plays and he can be a real joy to watch.

Liel Abada also showed that he is still very handy at the old assist game when he puts his mind to it as he laid two on a plate for the attacker. David Turnbull's late counter gave an air of respectability to a fixture which, in the end up, resembled a scoreline from a bygone era kind of jumpers-for-goalposts type game, if you will.

Even Rodgers was as philosophical as he could be while accentuating the positives in the post-match analysis. The 50-year-old would never throw his players deliberately under the bus. One gets the feeling, though, that the public utterances may well be very different from the private ones that those and only such as those are privy to in the inner sanctum of the Celtic dressing room.

He said: "It's a period of the season where we're only a few weeks in and assessing where we're at. We could have been better for the first goal before it got to Joe Hart... These players, their attitude and energy in everything that they do, on and off the pitch, is great.

"The humility that they have and how they work and present themselves is first class. They're also very talented footballers. I think it was a really good exercise for us. It was always going to be a challenge, firstly from a physical perspective. We arrived here in Japan on Monday and were into a game in hot conditions, against a team that is more than halfway into the season.

"There were some really good bits in the game. Some of our goals were excellent. I thought Maeda was exceptional in his performance. It was everything you'd want in a striker; running, movement and pressing."

READ MORE: Ex-Celtic striker on the fight involving Larsson and why it helped

For every Ying, there is a Yang, isn't that what they say? Rodgers' Ying in Yokohama was the whole Celtic defence. His Yang was Maeda. It may well be pre-season but the words of the famous Celtic song may need to be rewritten.

"We don't care if we win, lose or draw..." Actually, the Celtic faithful do care. On the basis of this evidence alone, maybe it's time to amend those lyrics to..."We do care if we win, lose or draw..." Celtic don't play friendlies. They never have and they never will. Roll on Gamba Osaka.

When all is said and done, though, it was a good workout for Rodgers' side, wasn't it? Or whatever that means. Pre-season matches always tend to be about fitness levels and never the results, especially when you don't win. It may well be time for Rodgers and Celtic to get to work in the transfer market off the pitch as well as using the Gamba Osaka encounter to attempt to flush the Yokohama game out of their system on the pitch.

See. The Celtic faithful do care if we win, lose or draw. Always. They'll certainly care come Saturday, August 5th. Rodgers knows that only too well.