JOHN KENNEDY looks back to last summer and shudders ... when he looks forward to this one, the Celtic coach smiles.

Some Norwegian bloke called Ronny Deila had been appointed Hoops manager a year ago and, long before we saw his Roar, there were a few rocky moments.

Beaten by Legia Warsaw, then reinstated in bizarre circumstances, before losing to FK Maribor. It was all rather embarrassing for the Parkhead club.

It was close to the scale of Artmedia Bratislava – in more ways than one.

Gordon Strachan suffered humiliation in his first attempt at the Champions League qualifiers and then went on to win the Premier League and League Cup – exactly what Deila did nine years on.

Strachan then enjoyed some wonderful midweek moments after this false start and Kennedy, who played in many of those games and is now Deila’s lieutenant, believes this Celtic era can see European opponents humbled ... unlike a year ago when they went down without a fight.

Asked about those tough first weeks, Kennedy said: “It was just managing the situation as it moved along. I was getting to know the manager, still getting to know what he wanted. We had a lot of chats, spent a lot of time together, but that does take time. For the players, that is ten-fold.

“I was trying to understand what the manager wanted, but it takes even more time for the players to do this. Looking back, it was a tough time. It’s an experience that will certainly help us and give us an extra edge going into these qualifying ties.”

And now? Well, now Celtic are in a much better place and, while Icelandic champions Stjarnan will be no mugs and, as always with such teams, are going to be well into their own season, this is a tie the Scottish champions should take care of.

And then Deila will only be two more ties away from the group stages where the big test is waiting.

Kennedy said: “I think Celtic managers are just judged full-stop. Every game, every week, there are judgments made.

"What I will say is at Celtic, we want to be in the Champions League. A club of this stature should be there and we’ll give it our very best shot to take the club to where we want it to be.

"I think fans, players and ourselves all want to be there. We have to make sure preparations are good leading into it. We need to attack it with everything we’ve got and hopefully that will be enough to take us over the line and into the group stages.

“We are in a better place to make an impact. Last year, a lot of changes were going on. We had a new management team getting to know the players, they were trying to understand what was wanted on the pitch, and at the same time we were thrown into a qualifier with a lot of pressure on us.

“We didn’t manage to make it. We didn’t deserve to. However, we are in a much better place now. The players fully understand what we want them to do, what is required of them and they are much more settled, have more peace of mind and go and attack the games with no added pressure, or thinking too much about what we are thinking."

So this Stjarnan side, who will visit Glasgow for the first leg on July 14 or 15, are they any good?

Well, they won’t be at Celtic’s level, but the idea that all Kennedy and his players have to do is turn up in three weeks time, and that will be that, is daft.

Kennedy said: “We know the quality of teams you can face at these stages. So, first and foremost, we need to go into the first tie as best prepared as we can be and take care of business and then take each game as it comes.

“It’s very difficult to qualify. People talk about qualifying for the Champions League, but there are six games and three ties you need to get through. And I think the standard of the opposition is getting higher and higher.

“From the experience I’ve had and what I see, it’s getting tougher. Considering we’ve done so well in the past 10-15 years in Europe as a club, we are still asked to go through a rigorous qualification schedule.

“The fact it is getting tougher would make getting there a greater achievement. But these are the cards we are dealt.

“We knew coming into the new season that this is what we’d have to face and we’ll certainly stand up, face that and attack it.”

A reason for Kennedy’s relative confidence is that even if Dedryck Boyata is the only new signing made by the time Celtic fly to Iceland, the squad is strong and, while more new faces will arrive, it’s not as big a priority as things stand now compared to last year.

Kennedy said: “If I’m being honest I don’t think we need too much. I think we’ve got a very good squad of players. I think making five and six changes every transfer window only destabilises things.

“If one or two became available who are going to improve the squad and give us a better standard of player then we would look at that.

“But it’s certainly not something we’re going all-out attack to try to bring players in at this moment. We have to just wait and see what’s available.

“Even if it means going into the Champions League campaign with what we’ve got, I think we’ll be content with that because what we do have is Boyata, plus Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong, who were both players that were pencilled in for this season and we were fortunate enough to get them a bit earlier.

“So straight away there are three players, and you don’t want to make too many more."