It was ironic that in the week of another ignominious Champions League exit for Celtic and no European football after Christmas former boss Neil Lennon uttered these words: "I do think the glass ceiling will be broken one day. I do think we will get through to the last 16 again and hopefully someone takes them beyond the last 16. There is another European trophy in us, whenever that will be who knows but I'd love to be there to see it."

That glass ceiling would appear to be made of bulletproof glass for Celtic and they ain't penetrating it anytime soon. Whether supporters are prepared to accept this dose of realism or not, the plain truth is that the Scottish champions do not currently belong at the top table of European football. There, I've said it.

The Celtic supporters are scunnered with hard luck stories, plaudits, the rarefied Celtic Park atmosphere. Bin that nonsense right now.  Watching the Champions League is purgatory. It's points not plaudits that they want. Its results not raptures and rounds of applause for how good their stadium looks with the lights flashing and all the sound and fury. Sod all of that. It matters not a jot.

READ MORE: Watch as Brendan Rodgers presents Pope Francis with Celtic strip

What does matter is that Celtic start to treat the Champions League with the respect and reverence it deserves. If they don't then they'll continue to be bit-part players and there to simply make up the numbers. A pot four team who always finishes in bottom spot in their group but 'aw shucks we're just glad to be there because we play in a small league'.

Of course, there are many variables as to why Celtic are on this continual cycle of failure at the top level. Being glad to be there is one of them. Maybe that's largely explains why Celtic have actually stopped trying to be the best version of themselves in the Champions League.

In years gone by, you got used to seeing Nir Bitton fill in at centre-back as the men in green and white tried to negotiate a path through the tricky qualifiers. More often than not it ended in failure. Former boss Ange Postecoglu was also forced to field young centre-back Dane Murray in his first assault and the inevitable happened as Celtic crashed and burned to Danish outfit FC Midtjylland.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail and all that. A club like no other indeed, especially when it comes to the Champions League. Let's be blunt here, the current Celtic board of directors lack ambition in Europe. They are content to keep Rangers at arms length and if they can guarantee themselves entry into the group stages of the Champions League then all the better and they can reward themselves with nice big bonuses in the process.

Martin O'Neill famously said that Celtic should prepare for life in the slow lane. Celtic have not consistently been a force in Europe since O'Neill's days. Sure Gordon Strachan led Celtic to back-to-back last 16 Champions League qualifications and Lennon himself guided Celtic to the knockout stage. Since Celtic reached the 2003 UEFA cup final in Seville under O'Neill these have been the blips rather than any kind of norm.

The men upstairs should hang their heads in shame that Rangers have contested two European finals since Celtic last contested one of their own. That fact alone should irk every one of them like it does every Celtic supporter. It hurts the faithful that the club cannot compete at the European level.

Celtic Way: Black Friday Deal


Celtic Way:

Yet Celtic have in Brendan Rodgers an elite level manager at the helm. The 'r' word is going to rear its head once again. Dial 'r' for recruitment.

Rodgers has banged on about signing quality players from the moment he walked in the door. The Celtic board showed real ambition to land their man despite some hostility to Rodgers return in the summer. The Grey (Suit) Brigade rested on their laurels right there. What more ambition do you want? We brought the prodigal son home.

Was Rodgers made promises on recruitment that the Celtic hierarchy never followed through on? How come Rodgers stance on recruitment has changed since August?

Back then Rodgers said: ""Ultimately, I will develop and coach the players that the club provide me, and the process of the club providing me with the players is we have a great network of scouts headed up by Mark Lawwell, who I've said before has done a fantastic job within the model of the club, which allows the club to be sustainable and successful at the same time.

"So, they have a pipeline of players that will fit in, but then it's about packaging the profile that fits us best and of course, I play a part in that. But they do a lot of great work; they watch players over a number of months so that they have various players for each position. So whenever we do lose one there's a replacement to come in."

All of sudden at the AGM that position morphed into this: "No player has been pushed onto me. We have a structure and set up and we are planning for the longer term in our signing strategy. I make the final decision on whether we sign a player."

That being the case what happened with Celtic in regards to the Champions League this season? Why were Rodgers and Celtic just as ill-prepared to take on a competition of this magnitude as many other Parkhead side in the past?

Celtic are bottom of a Champions League group that consisted of Feyenoord, Atletico Madrid and Lazio. One measly point from five matches with the final group stage game on matchday six the deadest of dead rubbers.

Yet in the aftermath of Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat to Lazio which signalled the death knell for European competition for another year, Rodgers said this: "A club like ourselves operating at this level needs to have its strongest squad available for that. That’s always the starting point. Secondly, this level is about quality, and you can’t fault the players and their effort and commitment as they gave everything. It comes down to that wee bit of quality and availability of players."

There's that 'q' word again - quality. He threw in availability for good measure. Rodgers is a manager who clearly knows what he wants moving forward. He knew what he wanted in the summer too. So how come the Celtic board did not deliver?

There was a feeling of expectancy when Rodgers arrived that the recruitment would also rise significantly and that oven-ready first team players with experience would arrive to take Celtic to the fabled next level. Eight project signings came in through the door instead. Read into that what you will. Did Rodgers veto any of them? Did Rodgers okay them all or were they all signed off by Lawwell? Celtic's football department is not catering to the needs of the team, is it? Celtic and the new Lawwell - meet the new Lawwell, same as the old Lawwell - are trying to identify and sign players for washers and sell them on for vast profits.

Celtic Way: Celtic Park Champions League arch

Sound familiar? 

The Celtic board,  headed by chairman Peter Lawwell and CEO Michael Nicholson have failed to back their manager once again when it comes to the Champions League. This continued cycle of European failure is on their watch. Celtic are on a hamster wheel in European competitions and they can't get off. Qualify for group stage, play matches, get knocked out. Rinse and repeat.

Yet somehow it's Rodgers' football CV and managerial ego that is takes the dents and the canings not theirs. He had Mikey Johnston and David Turnbull coming off the bench to win a game against Lazio in Italy. Odin Thiago Holm is talented but not enjoying the best start to his Celtic career. Oh Hyeon-gyu blows hot and cold but he's certainly not the man to turn to in a win or bust clash against Lazio, is he?

Meanwhile Lazio had Italian international Ciro Immobile. He scored twice in three minutes and ended Celtic's hopes of qualifying in an instant. Immobile has quality and experience.

Rodgers had a bench that included three centre-halves, a right back and two homegrown young talents. Johnston and Turnbull might not be Celtic players come January. That's the hand the Celtic board dealt the manager to play the highest stakes poker football can offer. It's all right though, Celtic have got circa £72 million in the bank for a rainy day...

Those at the top are also tone deaf as they failed to read the room at the AGM where there was an attitude of smugness at play. Cheap jibes at Rangers is not 'the Celtic Way' and has never been 'the Celtic Way'. The faithful expect better, much better from those entrusted with being in charge of this wonderful institution.

READ MORE: Celtic AGM analysis: The Grey Suit Brigade vs The Green Brigade

Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Grey (Suit) Brigade whereby it's not the competing in the Champions League that matters, it is all about the taking part. Men so shorn of ambition for the club at the highest level but who have convinced themselves that they the custodians have the best interests of the club at heart and they are the right people to take the club forward.

Celtic are being ritually humiliated at the level the club was once feared but the Grey (Suit) Brigade care not a jot. I wonder how smug they felt waking up this morning when they realised the first British team to win the European Cup in 1967 had created a new record by becoming the first British team to register 15 matches in a row without a Champions League win.

The Celtic board have failed to arm Rodgers with the necessary tools required to mount any assault on the Champions League.

They have also failed Rodgers and the supporters in the sense that they have not allowed Celtic to be the very best version of themselves in the European arena and not for the first time.

On the way back to Glasgow, Rodgers and the Celtic players paid a visit to the Vatican City and dropped in on Pope Francis. Rodgers presented his Holiness with a signed Celtic strip during a private audience at the Vatican.

Pope Francis went on to praise the club for their "valued legacy" and the importance of the fact Celtic was originally established to help fight poverty.

He said: "I pray that you will continue to remember and bear witness to everything that makes sport genuinely good and noble. May Almighty God bless each of you and your families. I wish you a safe journey home to Scotland."

It will take more than divine intervention for Lennon's assertion that Celtic can win another European trophy. In truth, success and silverware in Europe has never felt so distant.

On that note does Pope Francis perform divine interventions at boardroom level? I'm asking for a friend.