THERE is no denying Celtic have a problem when it comes to domestic cup ties. The litany of shock results in recent years confirms this.

And exiting the League Cup to Morton, then the Scottish Cup to Aberdeen - both ties at home - proves Neil Lennon is no nearer finding the solution.

The problem could lie in the fact the players cannot motivate themselves as much for these competitions as they do for Champions League matches and even league games.

The Champions League dominates everything much more than ever before, and the championship is the gateway to that stage - with the bonuses attached to it.

As a consequence, domestic cup ties can be somewhat overlooked leading to under-par performances like the one on Saturday.

Of course, Celtic did sweep aside Hearts in the previous round with a breathtaking display at Tynecastle. But that just underlines how much depends on attitude on the day.


IT'S hard to make sense of a team that isn't beaten in 24 league games this season, but has lost two out of three in the domestic cups, going out of both tournaments when hot favourites at home.

If the League Cup defeat to Morton in September was freakish, the fall to Aberdeen was another matter entirely. Celtic were deservedly beaten.

They have been poor in the cups under Neil Lennon. Two cup wins from nine campaigns amounts to a major under-achievement. Why does it keep happening?

They were flat on Saturday as they were in many earlier cup defeats. More empty seats at home games (when season-tickets don't count) clearly detracts from the atmosphere.

Yet, in the previous round, they were electrifying when beating Hearts 7-0. There is no obvious explanation other than that the players believe their superiority will see them through in the end.

And, unlike in league games, a defeat in the cup offers no way back.