They say that in cup football, the only thing that matters is getting through to the next round. But while Liam Scales was hugely relieved that Celtic eventually managed to do just that after the thriller against Aberdeen at Hampden on Saturday, that doesn’t mean he is discounting what went wrong in his side’s performance.

That is particularly pertinent to his own department of the team, with the Celtic defence not only being caught cold in the opening minutes of the match to fall behind but also conceding two last-minute equalisers in both regulation time and in extra time too - goals that were carbon copies of one another.

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Aberdeen had clearly identified Celtic’s back post defending as a weakness, scoring twice by chipping the ball into that area and attacking the cross, meaning that the cup holders were forced to endure a penalty shootout before eventually securing their place in the season’s showpiece occasion at the end of May.

If they want to finish the season with two trophies in their cabinet, though, Scales says they have to heed the lessons from the goals they lost to the Dons. When asked if the way their backline was exposed at the weekend was a warning to the Celtic defence, Scales said: “That is dead right. It is a warning. We will look at what we need to do better.

“We already discussed it in the changing room after the game on Saturday. We talked about how we could have improved at the goals. Obviously football is a game of small margins, so it’s about little changes that can help you avoid these things. It will be looked at closely because clean sheets are just as important as scoring goals. It’s a big part of what we want to do in the remaining games.

“It was just a bit overwhelming [against Aberdeen]. Just mental. Aberdeen played very well. They have very good creative players and they created chances. It was probably the craziest game I’ve played in. We showed good mental strength after going behind early, then going ahead a couple of times and being brought back to penalties.

“We were just delighted to come out on top and have a cup final to look forward to.”

Another reminder that Aberdeen served to the Celtic players at the weekend – not that Scales feels it was particularly needed – is that it would be folly to think that the destination of the league title will come down to the game against second-placed Rangers.

As the Dons showed, and as the Ibrox club have found themselves over the past week, the other clubs in the league are more than capable of posing problems for either of the Glasgow giants. And Aberdeen, after all, didn’t even make the top six “One hundred percent,” he said.

“It’s not just about that game. All of these teams are in the top six for a reason. They are the better sides in the league and generally in form. Every game is going to be tough. We have a difficult game in Dundee this weekend and we are not looking past that. It’s our next game and if we don’t win the two games before we play Rangers it won’t matter what we do in that one.

“That’s what we are really focused on.”

While a little frustrated at the performance of the Celtic defence as a collective at the weekend, Scales allowed himself a moment of personal satisfaction after being voted into the PFA Scotland Team of the Season by his fellow professionals after the stunning turnaround he has achieved at the club this term. “I am delighted with that,” he said.

“I feel this has been a bit of a breakthrough year so to get named by other players means a lot to me. I am proud of that. But the focus is on the rest of the season because it’s far from over and there’s so much to play for. This is where we want to be, 100 per cent. We are in the driving seat, but you look at that game on Saturday. It was mental, and it just shows that anything can happen.

“We need to be professional and on top of our game for these last five league matches and cup final.”

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What helped Celtic get over the line on Saturday, and what Scales feels may help them get over the line in both league and cup, is the ability of manager Brendan Rodgers to keep his head while all around are losing theirs, and to project that calmness onto his players. “I think it’s because he is so used to it,” he said.

“This is all second nature to him. He exudes that calmness in this situation, and we feel that from him. He trusts in his players and his philosophy. That’s why he’s so calm because he knows if we do what we are good at doing, we can beat any team. He embraces this pressure and at this part of the season, that is what it is all about.

“It is pressure and games can be tense and tough. It might not necessarily be quality that wins you matches, it’s about showing up and doing the job.”