The trilogy of games between Celtic and Motherwell will at last come to an end this weekend, with the drawn-out controversies of the first two instalments perhaps only surpassed by the Lord of the Rings for sheer length, entertainment and occasional scenes of violence.

Controversial penalties, red cards, own goals, you name it. In the case of the two spot-kick awards given to Celtic, there would doubtless still be disagreement over their validity supposing the referee was the all-seeing eye of Sauron.

If you are a Celtic supporter, no doubt you feel that both incidents were stonewallers. If your glasses are of a claret and amber hue, or any other for that matter, you probably don’t.

But whatever your viewpoint on whether Craig Thomson and then Willie Collum were correct to point to the spot, for me, there has been a worrying narrative developing in our game over the past week.

It is a phrase that has popped up time and time again in the debate over the penalty awards; “There was contact.” So what? Is football not a contact sport? Does every contact between a defender and an attacker in the 18-yard box now result in a penalty?

Even worse is the now seemingly accepted mantra that a player “had every right to go down.” Sorry? When did this become acceptable practice in Scottish football, and not just a phrase you would maybe hear from the likes of Andy Walker before throwing a shoe at the telly?

This is not to say that if a player is genuinely impeded in the area then the defender shouldn’t receive the appropriate punishment. Of course both he and his team should.

But it seems to me that any contact with an attacker is now deemed a worthy reason for said player to throw himself to the deck.

You often hear another stock phrase in these situations, that the defender "has given the referee a decision to make". I would argue that in fact, it is more often than not the attackers who are looking to dupe the officials into making erroneous decisions by exaggerating contact by falling dramatically.

Of course, you can also argue that the reason players do this is because they don’t get penalty decisions unless they draw the referee’s attention to fouls in the area.

A few weeks ago, Celtic’s Scott Sinclair was pulled back in the box by Hibs defender Efe Ambrose at Celtic Park. It seemed a clear foul, and therefore, a penalty. Sinclair didn’t go down, play raged on, and eventually Hibs got out of town with a draw.

Fast forward to Sunday’s Betfred Cup final. Sinclair bursts into the area beyond Motherwell defender Cedric Kipre, who puts out an arm and makes contact with the side of the Celtic player. By his own admission after the game, he felt the touch, and perhaps with the Hibs game in his mind, decided to go down. A conscious decision to draw attention to what he felt was a foul.

Now whether you believe it was foul or not, my point would be that this concession from Sinclair that he went down of his own volition was striking to me, and the fact it went largely unchallenged was perhaps an indication in a sea-change in attitudes in Scottish football.

In the past, we have been guilty of sneering at those on the continent who don’t embody the (perhaps mythical) Corinthian values that we right across the British Isles adopted when it came to our conduct on the football field. Diving, or even exaggerating contact, was just not cricket.

The point is wider than the Sinclair penalty incident, or even the penalty Callum McGregor was awarded on Wednesday night.

Exaggerating contact now receives a pat on the back for a player from his manager. Manufacturing that contact, is now labelled as cute or clever. It is the defender who is called daft for falling into the trap.

I appreciate I may be sounding like Mike Bassett here, but that’s not how I like to see the game played.

But it is where we are. And we are all complicit. If Louis Moult had felt an arm on his side and went down to win a penalty that ultimately won Motherwell the Betfred Cup on Sunday, their supporters wouldn’t give two hoots. And similarly, Celtic fans - if you pardon the expression - would be up in arms.

So, here’s to another quiet afternoon at Celtic Park today, and best of luck to referee Kevin Clancy. The way things are going, he’ll need it.