Celtic started the 2023/24 season with a routine 4-2 home win over Ross County at Celtic Park on Flag Day.

In what was Brendan Rodgers' first competitive match following his return as manager, it was a chance to show what his team had been working on in pre-season in a competitive match. 

Some big calls were made in the starting line-up with Maik Nawrocki and David Turnbull being preferred over stalwarts Carl Starfelt and Reo Hatate, who both had to settle for places on the bench.

Following some early pressure from the visitors, Celtic were awarded a penalty after Greg Taylor was brought down in the box. Turnbull stepped up and converted before Kyogo Furuhashi doubled their lead. Turnbull secured a brace just before half-time to make it 3-0 at the break. The visitors got themselves on the scoresheet through Jordan White in the second half, though the three-goal advantage was re-established through Matt O'Riley, as the game finished 4-2 following a late own-goal from Starfelt.

With that being said, here are the key points of discussion from this afternoon's game at Celtic Park...

Maik Nawrocki impresses

In what was a slight surprise when the team lines came out, Maik Nawrocki was named in the starting line-up in place of Carl Starfelt. The Polish defender was a big-money signing from Legia Warsaw this summer and was preferred over Cameron Carter-Vickers' usual defensive partner in Starfelt. With Rodgers explaining before the game that the Sweden international was benched due to interest in a move away, it was a good opportunity for the new signing to stake his claim and cement his place as Celtic's new defensive stalwart. Nawrocki is certainly more comfortable on the ball than the man he replaced in the team, allowing him to venture forward and go on runs, not unlike how previous Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer used to do at the club. Defensively, the 22-year-old looks solid as well, showing he can cover all bases whilst playing for Celtic on both ends of the park. Overall, it was a very impressive debut from the towering defender, who looks like yet another success story for Mark Lawwell and his recruitment team in terms of transfer acquisitions. He was replaced by Starfelt after 65 minutes.

READ MORE: Carl Starfelt benched for Celtic due to transfer talks, says Rodgers

Turnbull makes his mark

Another surprising decision from Rodgers was the inclusion of Turnbull in place of Hatate in the middle of the park. The Scotland international had been impressive in pre-season and was preferred to one of last season's standouts, who had to settle for a spot on the bench. It was a vindicated choice early on, as he cooly converted a penalty - in turn, Celtic's first goal of the season. He then scored a second right before half-time, doubling his tally for the day. With a year left on his deal, Turnbull will be hoping to make more of an impact than he did last season, with the midfielder being a bit-part player in Ange Postecoglou's second season in charge. The talent has always been there, but Turnbull will be hoping to become a regular starter once again for the club he joined in 2020. For a player looking like he was on his way out at the end of last season, he looks as if he will be a major player this campaign. In the case of Hatate, though, it may be a message from the manager that his position is not completely safe, despite his stellar career in Glasgow so far. Competition is always good, even in congested areas like the middle of the park.

Defensive lapses cause concern

Despite being ahead for the vast majority of the game, Celtic did allow Ross County to threaten their defence by way of set-pieces, especially in the first half. By 40 minutes in, the visitors had amassed seven corners at Celtic Park, an unbelievable amount for the home side to give up. Thankfully, nothing came of these chances, but Celtic will be punished in later games if they allow themselves to give away such careless and dangerous opportunities for their opponents. Joe Hart in goals for Celtic continues to be a figure of much speculation, and this will only increase after another shaky start. He could have easily given away a penalty after a clumsy challenge on Ross County striker Simon Murray, but referee Nick Walsh decided to spare the goalkeeper's blushes. Eventually, Celtic were punished for their slackness, as White converted a header to spoil the home side's clean sheet hopes. If Celtic are to improve their back-line, then they must cut out the slow starts and shaky bouts of possession in their own half, or they will be further punished by better teams - both in the league and in Europe going forward.

READ MORE: Brendan Rodgers reveals Saudi opportunity before landing Celtic return

Kyogo dropping deeper

It was a common feature in games under previous manager Postecoglou for Kyogo to cut a lonely figure up front for Celtic. He would be expected to score goals and press the opposition high up the park. Judging by the first game under the management of Rodgers, it seems like there has been a slight tweak with regard to what is expected of the striker, as he regularly dropped into the midfield to provide an outlet for other central players to pass to in a makeshift playmaker role. Kyogo is more than good enough technically to play this slight change to his position, and Ross County found the areas he was picking up extremely difficult to contend with. These positions resulted in him getting a goal and an assist in his first game of the season. Expect to see a lot of late runs from deep this season, with the Japan striker finding the back of the net more often than not if he gets the service he craves going forward. Opposition defenders are going to have an even tougher time defending Celtic's main man if he can keep himself fit for the majority of the season, which is an extremely frightening prospect for the rest of the league if it transpires.

Rodgers starts with a win

Despite the fair amount of pressure that Ross County put on Celtic - especially in the first half - the returning Rodgers will be pleased that he got his second competitive debut as Hoops manager with a comfortable win. On occasions like Flag Day - when sometimes the game can get caught up in the middle of the festivities - any win will do and thus it will have been encouraging that the game was a relatively straightforward exercise once Celtic got a foothold in the match. Of course, Rodgers and his team will face stiffer challenges - Aberdeen at Pittodrie next week is certainly one of them - but he will no doubt be satisfied by the majority of what he witnessed this afternoon. Three points on the board on the first day of the season is a success, with many of the performances on the day being an added bonus for the manager to enjoy on reflection for the Irishman. A solid start for the former Leicester manager on his pursuit for further success in charge of Celtic the second time around.