RONNY DEILA was well advanced in his planning to cut one of Europe's big names down to size in the Champions League second qualifying round.
Now, the 38-year-old looks like having the boot on the other foot.
Instead of aiming to create a shock result with Norwegian minnows Stromsgodset, he is set to be handed the task of preventing Celtic becoming an early-round victim.
The fact the two clubs enter the competition at the same stage is about as much as they have in common. Well, that and the fact they are both champions - and both hold Deila in the highest regard.
The former player who turned to coaching at the small, artificial-surface Marienlyst Stadion eight years ago is one of the game's rising stars and flitted across Celtic's radar when they scouted Stefan Johansen last year.
In tandem with director of football, Jostein Flo, qualified teacher Deila was then leading the small town team to their first title in 43 years - three seasons after proving his credentials as an astute coach by lifting the Norwegian Cup.
Their style has been likened to Barcelona, in so much as they press high up the pitch and instinctively know where one another will be when in possession, all of which is down to good coaching.
Deila is regarded as the best coach Norway has produced since the legendary Nils Arne Eggen, who led Rosenborg to 11 titles in a row and into the Champions League in eight consecutive seasons.
But it is the comparisons with Deila and one of the men he most admires, Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp, which should excite Celtic supporters most.
Like Klopp, Deila has a positive philosophy on the game, how it should be played, the way he treats those working under him not just as players but as men, and how he develops a side packed with youngsters who can go on to bigger and better things but can also deliver trophies for the club en route.
All of which has been done on a small budget and limited resources and all of which has brought him to the attention of the kingmakers at Celtic.
While the outside focus has been on luminaries such as Henrik Larsson, Roy Keane, Steve Clarke, Malky Mackay, Owen Coyle, Michael Laudrup and Davie Moyes finding space on the list of "exceptional candidates" under consideration, in the race to be Neil Lennon's successor, Deila has sneaked up on the blind side to put himself into position to pip them all on the line.
His profile might not be as high as those he was running against - but his stock is. It's matched by his ambition. Deila knows that by accepting such a challenge as Celtic represents, he is putting all that he was worked towards on the line.
The Champions League qualifiers will provide the instant acid test.
In these matches - with the home legs of their first two rounds played at Murrayfield - people will make a judgment on Deila and his credibility as a Celtic manager.
They might like to recall Gordon Strachan lost 5-0 in his opening game to Artmedia Bratislava in 2005 to go out of Europe for the season, and that Lennon also saw his side crash and burn - against Braga in the Champions League qualifiers then Utrecht in the play-off for a spot in the Europa Cup - before he had really got his feet under the table.
Both managers went on to win the championship three years in a row, and prove they were quick learners by taking Celtic to the last 16 of the Champions League.
Today, however, there is no such opportunity to slip and recover because so much depends on Celtic reaching the Group Stage of the Champions League.
The qualifiers will be unknown territory for Deila. His only previous experience of leading a side into Europe shows only one victory. That was against Hungarian outfit, Debreceni, in the second qualifying round of the Europa Cup last season, before Stromsgodset lost to FK Jablonec of the Czech Republic.
Their cup win in 2010 gave them a spot in the qualifiers for the same competition but they came up against Atletico Madrid and, not surprisingly, lost both legs.
His CV is light in this area but former Celt Vidar Riseth, who played under Deila at Stroms-godset for six months before he retired from the game in 2010, does not believe this will be any handicap to the man he describes as "the best coach in Scandinavia".
"Ronny has such a strong mentality that he will be ready for the challenge of getting Celtic through the qualifying matches," said the 42-year-old who now works in sponsorship for a leading food company. "It is a big step up, but he is definitely ready for it."
Riseth understands Hoops fans were expecting a more familiar figure to replace Lennon but is convinced they will take to Deila instantly.
He recalled: "When Lubo Moravcik was brought to Celtic, a lot of people asked, 'Lubo who?' because, to them, he wasn't a big name.
"But they took him to their hearts when they saw what he could do, and I am sure it will be the same with Ronny. His teams play football the way everyone likes to see it played. He always wants to attack from the first minute of games, with full-backs pushing on
"What he did last year with Stromsgodset was terrific.
"They were a young team which did not have much money spent on it. Stromsgodset had just 10% of the budget of clubs like Rosenborg.
"So, to win the league was unbelievable.
"They sold three or four of their players in January, including Stefan Johansen to Celtic, and people predicted they would struggle this season. But, Ronny has brought in more good young players and they are doing very well again."
The team spirit Deila crates is a major weapon in his armoury, and Riseth said: "Players want to play for him.
"If they don't, then maybe Celtic is not the club for them.
"He is very tough on the pitch, but also fair. He speaks to players all the time. If they are dropped from his team he explains why, and they know what they have to do to get back in.
"All players appreciate a manager like that."