Stuart Armstrong has always known about the threat that close friend Gary Mackay-Steven possesses, but his hat-trick for Aberdeen last weekend may have served a reminder to others at Celtic that they will have to keep a close eye on their former teammate this weekend.

The winger has hardly hit the ground running at Pittodrie following his summer switch from Celtic Park, but his stunning treble against Hibs hints that he may be coming into form just in time for the return visit to his old stomping ground on Saturday.

“I saw him the other day and he wouldn't stop talking about his hat-trick,” Armstrong said. “As long as he doesn't do that again on Saturday we will be fine.

Read more: Stuart Armstrong: Gary Mackay-Steven is one of my best pals but I'll blank him at Celtic Park on Saturday

“I think you will have seen in the past what a threatening player he can be. He is a very good player and a good friend of mine. He is one to look out for and try to account for.

“Of course, he is one of my closest friends so when somebody you know does well you are always happy for them. I was really pleased to score three and fulfil his potential like that.

“He is a quality player - I have played with him for five years or so and seen his qualities day-in day-out in training. Sometimes things just don't work out in certain places, but he is definitely showing his quality again at Aberdeen.”

Despite their close relationship, Armstrong will be drawing his pal a blank when they take to opposite ends of the field at the weekend.

“It was funny, I saw Blair Spittal downstairs [after Wednesday’s game against Partick Thistle] and he was making jokes about me, saying I ignored him for 90 minutes.

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“That is just how I am - I don't like to speak to any friends - I just like to concentrate on the game and after I can speak to them or have a joke with them. I won't even look at him.

“Everyone's different - sometimes people see mates on the pitch and make a few jokes with them, that is just not me. I like to focus on the game. When I first came here, we played Dundee United straight away and I didn't say a word to anybody.”

Armstrong is hoping that he too can now experience something of an upturn in form, after an indifferent first half of the season by the high standards he set for himself last campaign.

His stunning strike against Thistle was just his fifth goal this term, and his first since early September, after hitting 17 last season.

It was around the festive period last year though that the midfielder really started to hit the goal trail, and with his future at the club now secure, he sees no reason why he can’t get back to that sort of form once more.

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“For me, scoring goals is the best part about playing football and that is what I enjoy most,” he said. “To get back on the scoresheet was a really nice moment for me.

“I've scored a couple of nice ones but that meant a lot to me to find the net again. It was a nice strike and when it went in I had a really nice view of it.

“Of course, I wanted to pick up where I left off last season. I had a really good return, so I really wanted to add to that but sometimes in football you go through spells where you don't score so many. I need to keep on believing that I can score goals, and keep on taking shots, I added one [on Wednesday] and hopefully I can add more.”

A routine win over Partick Thistle at home perhaps would not normally carry huge significance for Celtic, but coming off the back of their 69-match unbeaten run crashing to a halt with Sunday’s thumping defeat to Hearts, Armstrong believes it was an important gauge of the mental strength within their squad.

“It was bound to happen eventually,” he said. “It wasn't the way we would have liked. I don't think we were feeling sorry for ourselves, it was a disappointing performance, but it was still an incredible achievement to reach that record. Only 69 to go to get a new one.

Read more: Stuart Armstrong: Gary Mackay-Steven is one of my best pals but I'll blank him at Celtic Park on Saturday

“It was important we got a good performance after the disappointing one on Sunday. And I thought for most of the game we were very good.

“We have been in situations before where we have had bad results and done really well in the next game and Wednesday night was just another example of how strong we are as a team and the character we have on the whole.”

Aberdeen, of course, will be hoping that they can halt Celtic’s latest attempt at a record-breaking run before it has got off the ground this weekend, but buoyed by the convincing win at Pittodrie back in November, Armstrong is hoping to open up a sizeable gap at the top of the table.

“With the winter break coming, they will be wanting to get as close as possible,” he said. “For us, it is about stretching that gap at the top. That is our aim to get to the winter break with a big gap and then hopefully we can stay up there.

“[The game at Pittodrie] was one of our best performances of the season. And I think Aberdeen will admit it themselves - they weren't at their best on that occasion.

“They didn't quite know how to cope with our tactics and our formation. I am sure they will have new ideas and it will be a fresh test for us.”