REACTIONS to a disappointing result tend to the extreme. Since the Scottish Cup semi-final loss, there seems to have been as many Rangers fans declaring their side was “brilliant” as Celtic fans decrying an “abysmal” performance.

The reality is that the game was a coin flip, decided by the smallest of margins.

Although the Ibrox club had the edge on possession (53 per cent) and possessions in the opposition box (34-23), WyScout had the xG 2.11–1.63 in Celtic’s favour. Both sides had only two shots on target and each goalkeeper made only one save.

Had the English version of VAR been in operation, the Hoops would have had a penalty on 96 minutes for a Borna Barisic handball too, while the winner would have likely been ruled offside as Calvin Bassey’s big toe was the furthest forward scoring part of his body. Neither of the aforementioned decisions were likely to be seen by the naked eye in real-time, though, and the overall performance of referee Bobby Madden is for another day.

That being said, Rangers implemented a better version of their European style of counter-attacking football than Celtic’s front-foot version of themselves. Especially in attacking areas, Ange Postecoglou's men were wasteful and imprecise; 10 per cent shot accuracy is their lowest of the season and 79 per cent pass completion is also their worst return.

Had Celtic got the benefit of the big calls and won, it would be similarly erroneous to declare them “brilliant” and the opposition “abysmal”. It was a very hard-fought match between two sides with similar wage bills.

Perhaps the key was experience over potential. The average age of the Rangers squad used on the day was 28.6. For Celtic, it was a more callow 25.1. Three-and-a-half years less experience across each and every player used. This might have played a factor in dealing with the demands of extra time.

More of the same

But much as the bragging rights will give comfort to the victors for another two weeks at least, both managers must rally players to produce consistent performances in the league above all else. The Champions League pot of gold has not gone away (Villareal's potential success notwithstanding).

When Celtic’s 69-match domestic unbeaten run ended in a 4-0 drubbing at Tynecastle in December 2017, no one saw it coming. Similarly, on Sunday, their attacking impotence belied what had become a very consistent run of form.

Celtic, under Brendan Rodgers, dusted themselves down from that defeat to beat Partick Thistle 2-0 three days later. The key was nothing changed. What had worked for 69 games was trusted to continue to work for the rest of that title-winning season.

READ MORE: Why Matt O'Riley must start during Celtic's title run-in

There is little prospect of Postecoglou letting a defeat like Sunday's alter his approach and beliefs - in fact, this is likely impossible.

A pattern had been set of minimal squad tinkering. The 7-0 win over St Johnstone saw back-to-back unchanged line-ups for the second time in the season. There was only a change at Hampden due to Giorgos Giakoumakis’s injury.  Postecoglou averages 2.9 changes per line up but much of that has been due to injury.

There were a few hobbling off in the semi-final so changes may be needed for Ross County - but expect those to be minimal and the style of play and approach altered little. He would be right to do so if we consider the underlying performance data.

Expected points and projected points

On Twitter, The Celtic Analysis regularly simulates the most likely match outcomes based on the performance data from the completed matches. This leads to an xPts (expected points) total. Tracking xPts throughout the season, Celtic have been top virtually the whole campaign.

They remain so by just under five xPts.  This is just less than Celtic’s actual six-point lead. The point is that the performance data produced so far shows the Hoops are where they are on merit in terms of those underlying data points.

The equally excellent account The Rangers Report uses key performance data such as expected goals for and against, and projects forward based on prior performances to predict the league outcome.

Again, nearly all season, this model has had Celtic projected to win the league with anything between seven and 10 points to spare.

None of this guarantees success, of course, but using underlying performance data generally regarded to be more predictive than actual results suggests Celtic are on track by being six points clear. They could be expected to increase that lead by the season's end.

The split has worked well this term in that, with five European places up for grabs, all the games should have something to play for in the coming weeks. What that means is that there should be fewer 'unexpected' results whereby some teams play others with little to aim for. This means the predictive models could remain prescient.

Emotions are naturally heightened after a disappointing defeat. The performance always seems worse if the scoreline goes against you.

Celtic’s fundamentals, in terms of underlying performances, remain strong in a domestic context. Expect minimal tinkering and a return to pre-Hampden form in the Highlands.