The number eight was back to being a good old-fashioned number nine as Celtic leapt back over Rangers into the Scottish Premiership number one spot.

Kyogo Furuhashi has picked the best time to rediscover his form and goalscoring mojo. It's traditionally known as the business end of the season. The talismanic figure certainly looks as if he means business.

The Japan international will be left cooling his heels in Glasgow during this break after being deemed surplus to requirements and not quite good enough to be included in Hajime Moriyasu‘s Blue Samurai squad. Japan's loss is Brendan Rodgers and Celtic's gain— big time. Whisper it quietly, but Kyogo is back. The 29-year-old's headed first-half opener in the 3-1 Scottish Premiership defeat of St Johnstone took his club tally to 15 for the campaign. It was a brave header and worthy of Henrik Larsson in his pomp and ceremony when he plied his trade in G40.

Kyogo could have helped himself to a hat-trick or more had VAR not ruled out two more efforts and the crossbar not come to the Saints' rescue at one juncture. It's fair to say that last season's PFA Scotland and Scottish Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year has not hit the dizzy heights of the previous two campaigns. Yet you get the feeling that, like many of his trademark one-touch finishes at the near post, Kyogo may have timed his run to perfection as Celtic get set to defend their Scottish Premiership and Scottish Cup crowns.

On loan, January signing Adam Idah was preferred to him in the recent matches against Dundee, Hearts and Livingston but the striker is back with a bang and then some. He served up a little reminder to Rodgers and the Celtic faithful when he expertly drilled home against the Lions in the 4-2 Scottish Cup quarter-final victory the week before.

Having been restored to the starting lineup against the Perth men, Kyogo did not disappoint. There were increasing signs that he was back to his brilliant best. He certainly looked faster, sharper and hungrier and the attacker gave a masterclass in centre-forward movement. This was vintage Kyogo, playing on the shoulder of the last defender and reaping the rewards. It was pure 'Angeball Kyogo'. The same Kyogo who terrorised opposition defences under the Aussies rule for two seasons. Kyogo's spark has not gone.

Ironically one of the best passages of play during the weekend win over Craig Levein's men came when Kyogo turned provide to opening goal supplier Nicolas Kuhn. Greg Taylor played a quality pass into the alert Kyogo who cushioned the ball with a sublime first touch before smashing over the most accurate of centres that was just begging to be put away. Kuhn duly obliged to make it 2-0 and it was game, set and match to Celtic.

READ MORE: Why Nicolas Kuhn was TCW's Star Man versus St Johnstone

It was a majestic goal and one that Kyogo usually profits from by virtue of his teammates spotting him making the exact same run as Kuhn did. Rodgers would do well to remember that Kyogo can function wide on the left as he played there many times for J1 League outfit Vissel Kobe.

However, what was noticeable in a season of moments and it has been a season of moments for Celtic, this was another one of those moments. It was a brilliant and devastating piece of play from Kyogo that cut St Johnstone asunder. Spatial awareness played a massive part in it but Kyogo's blind pass at speed made it as it took out the whole visiting defence.

When the Celtic players understand what Rodgers wants from them in terms of movement and constantly shifting positions at speed they can be hard to live with. Just as they were under Postecoglou. When Celtic play quick, attacking football and utilise Kyogo's excellent movement to the full, the results are hardly surprising, are they?

In truth, Kyogo has never really stopped making those runs, it is just that the service to him has not been as good as it should have been throughout the whole campaign as Kuhn's was at the weekend. It was Kuhn who was switched on to Kyogo's wavelength just as the likes of Jota and Matt O'Riley have been in the past. The rest of the Celtic team took their lead off Kuhn and raised that Kyogo prefers quick and quality service. You just need to be alert to it at all times.

It is partly why the nub of an understanding between Kuhn and Kyogo looked to be developing against St Johnstone as Kyogo fed off the supply from Kuhn all afternoon. Kuhn played with his head up all game and the pick out for the opening goal against the Saints is textbook. The pace, the trickery but enough nous to have a glance up and then throw a teasing delivery into the area where he knows his teammate will be. Kyogo is a supremely intelligent player and he knows he will score if the service is on the money.

It's no exaggeration to say it is what has been missing from Celtic's play for large chunks of the season. It ain't missing anymore. Back in December, Rodgers was quick to address any criticism that he had tweaked Kyogo's game in any shape or form. Rodgers said: "Nothing has changed in Kyogo’s game. He’s not been asked to play any differently. His strength is his penetration. That’s his game, running in behind and timing his runs. There’s been absolutely nothing different asked of him because his strength is playing off the last line, timing his movements and being instinctive in the opposition box.

"He’s not a dribbler, he’s not someone who does drop in. He can do it but it’s not his strength. He’s a threat instinctively in the box where he can get goals. There’s nothing different in his game. When you’re playing in a lot of games where teams are sat deep, you don’t get a kick of the ball really unless it comes into the box. So what do you do? You start wandering, and that’s the challenge for a striker who wants to affect games.

"Kyogo is very receptive. He’s not a baby, remember, he’s 29. Kyogo’s a guy on the last line who makes runs and is there to finish the moves and you have to be there to finish the move.”

READ MORE: Why Celtic's Kyogo needs to revert back to being a striker

He was certainly there to finish off the service provided by Kuhn and long may that continue. The arrival of Idah at Celtic Park has caused a reawakening in Kyogo. Even Rodgers conceded that after the St Johnstone game as he heaped praise on him. Rogers said: "Adam Idah has been very good when he came in and that is what Kyogo and every player needs. They need competition. I thought Kyogo was bright, his movement was good. Sharp. He was very brave at the first goal.

"He makes a run and comes back onside and obviously some strikers would maybe move their head out of the way with the keeper coming through but he didn’t and he scored the goal and it was a great cross for the second one. He was excellent.”

Kyogo even took to the social media site Instagram to reassure the Celtic faithful that he was still busting a gut for the cause. He said: "I'm not afraid of failure, I will continue to challenge and aim for the top."

It will have been sweet music to Rodgers and the Celtic supporters' ears as Kyogo has put himself into contention to not only lead the line against Livinsgton on the resumption of club football after the international break but also against Rangers at Ibrox on April 7. If they weren't worried down Govan way before they will be now. Kyogo’s recent scoring record against the Ibrox side is splendid bordering on magnificent. Well, he has netted a magnificent seven goals in 11 matches against them with all of those coming in the calendar year of 2023.

Rodgers has picked the optimum time to unleash Kyogo and Kuhn on unsuspecting Scottish Premiership opposition. If the Northern Irishman can keep getting a tune out of Celtic's version of 'Special K' for the remaining league games of the season then in football terms he may have a pair of serial scorers on his hands in terms of goals and assists.

Rodgers was right about one thing. Kyogo is not a baby. He is a baby-faced assassin. If Saturday's display is anything to go by then Kuhn is shaping up to be the same way. It's that level of cold-bloodedness that could help Celtic retain both pieces of silverware come May. Rodgers, Kyogo, Kuhn, the Celtic players and the fans are not afraid of failure.

The challenge continues. Celtic are aiming for the top.