It’s a situation that Celtic fans are very familiar with – my own first experience was losing 3-0 at home to Paris Saint Germain in 1995 after a heartening 1-0 defeat in the French capital.
Back then, domestically, Celtic were striving to stop a 10-in-a-row bid from across the city, thankfully they achieved that under a different manager. Wim Jansen and a squad that had been quickly assembled.
Today Brendan Rodgers and the Celtic support face the same dilemma. After seven successive domestic victories without losing a goal hopes were high about at least putting up a show against Valencia, a repeat of the autumn display against RB Leipzig was anticipated.
Two goals either side of half-time from the mid-table Spanish side and it was that familiar old sinking feeling, again.
Speaking to the media after the defeat Rodgers wasn’t going to heavily criticise his squad. Over the next three months he’ll be relying on those players to deliver a Treble Treble and another page in the record books.
And there in lies the age old question of domestic dominance alongside painful nights in Europe.
Into season three of his reign Rodgers would have been hoping to see some signs of progress in Europe but 50 minutes into the home leg of a Europa League last 32 tie it was all over for Celtic. Trips to Kilmarnock and Hearts this month are more significant than next week’s return leg at the Mestalla.
In 2003 Martin O’Neill took Celtic on an incredible journey to Seville and the final of the UEFA Cup while conceding a domestic treble to Rangers under Alex McLeish. There were a few grumbles but almost 20 years on the achievement of reaching Seville is revered by those that went or witnessed it.
Watch the video below to see the most insane overhead kick you will see this week…
Reaching the final of the new look Europa League looks highly unlikely. In 2003 Celtic beat Blackburn, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart and Liverpool before falling to Porto. Rodgers knows that more than any fan or pundit.
Europe will always be important to Celtic, certainly in terms of finance but also for prestige.
If the Treble Treble is achieved in May it will be celebrated mightily, but two months later another lengthy European qualifying campaign will be underway which promises to be just as brutal and unforgiving as the beatings handed out by RB Salzburg and Valencia.
Unless something radical is in the pipeline Celtic will revel in domestic successes while knowing deep down that they are barely making up the numbers when it comes to UEFA competition.