CELTIC fans staged the party to end all parties as their team trounced Rangers in the final Old Firm game of the season yesterday.
Flags were unfurled, banners brandished and songs sung in the sunshine in the east end of Glasgow as the Hoops squared up to their city rivals.
Their heroes duly repaid that backing on the park with a one-sided win, courtesy of goals from Charlie Mulgrew, Kris Commons and Gary Hooper.
Yet, the scoreline was largely irrelevant to the festivities; the Celtic supporters would have rejoiced even if they had lost.
The green-and-white-clad hordes have been whooping it up since their team sewed up the SPL title in some style against Kilmarnock earlier this month. Rangers' financial woes – the Ibrox club has been fighting for its very survival since being put into administration by owner Craig Whyte back in February – have also been pounced upon with glee.
So the Light Blues' widely anticipated demise was celebrated as much by the home support as the match victory or the league triumph.
"Jelly and ice cream as Rangers die" rang out across the packed Parkhead stands on a day of unashamed jubilation and no little gloating.
Given the intense enmity that exists between the two clubs, the stance of Celtic's followers have taken in recent weeks as Rangers have lurched inexorably towards the abyss has come as no surprise
However, with the very real possibility that Rangers could be demoted to the Third Division, or even go out of existence altogether, their hopes are misguided. They should, as the old saying goes, be careful what they wish for.
Life without Rangers will, no matter what their current custodians of the club declare to the contrary in public, be enormously damaging to Celtic's progress on and off the pitch. Not least, the disappearance of the world-famous Glasgow derby will be keenly felt, even for all its faults and all its unsavoury aspects.
Financially, the game is a cash cow. The lucrative television deal with Sky is struck on the back of it. Thousands of season tickets are sold to those simply looking to guarantee their seats for it.
Lose it, and millions of pounds of income is jeopardised. The quality of playing squads around the country is then compromised and the standard of football on offer decreases even further.
Given the decline in the fare on show in the last 20 or 30 years, that is something our beloved national game can ill-afford to happen. Professionally, the players involved will certainly rue the absence of the Old Firm game.
It is the biggest challenge they face domestically by some distance. Making the jump to European football, particularly the Champions League, will be even more demanding without it in the future.
Although they may be blinded to the fact by their ill-feeling – deeply ingrained by years, in many cases decades, of fiercely contested encounters – Celtic fans will miss not having games against their dear near neighbours as well.
This season, for example, the biggest game they would have played, had there been no Rangers in the Scottish top flight, would have been the meeting with third-placed Motherwell.
No disrespect to the Fir Park club, but that is hardly the sort of fixture that will stir the passions of grown men, sell-out a 60,000 seater stadium and generate a white-hot atmosphere that sends shivers down the spines of neutral observers as well as die- hard fans.
Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager, argued last week that the fixture he graced with distinction on so many occasions as a player was the greatest product British football, never mind Scottish football, had to offer.
He has a point. As the colourful, lively and noisy spectacle at Parkhead yesterday reminded everyone, there is nothing quite like an Old Firm game.
Even the most renowned local derbies in other countries in Europe pale in comparison. Putting the bigger picture to one side, Celtic's followers were right to laud the achievements of their team loudly once again yesterday.
Tainted title? What absolute rubbish! Coming from 15 points behind at the start of November to forge 21 points ahead is, irrespective of the 10-point deduction their nearest challengers were hit with after going into administration, a remarkable accomplishment.
No, the talented and robust young team Celtic manager Neil Lennon has moulded since taking charge two years ago, aided and abetted by his assistants Johan Mjallby and Alan Thompson, is richly deserving of its mantle as Scottish champions.
Rangers, in stark contrast to their opponents, were unrecognisable from the team that has won the SPL for the last three seasons.
Only goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who kept the scoreline down with some world-class saves, received pass marks for his display.
The continuing uncertainty over their futures, despite the Blue Knights consortium and American businessman Bill Miller tabling conditional bids for the club last week, appeared to take its toll on the visiting players.
But the loss of Rangers to the lower leagues for, at the very least, the next three years, or their disappearance altogether, will also impose a burden – on Celtic, and on Scottish football in general.