Tony Mowbray's brief reign as Celtic manager hit an all-time low as he watched his new look side crash to a 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock on Tuesday.
The Hoops defeat, their fifth in the league under Mowbray, sees Celtic trailing their bitter rivals Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premier League by ten points having played the same number of games. The Celtic boss has already seen his side eliminated from the League Cup and face a tricky away tie to First Division Dunfermline in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup on Saturday.
Celtic's grip on second place is under threat with high-flying Hibernian - who were managed by Mowbray back in 2004 - trailing them by just two points but with a game in hand. Celtic have won just three of their last eight league games but the manager insists his side can still catch Rangers if they win the final two Old Firm games of the season.
"Nobody is saying it won't be hard to claw back the lead," said the 46-year-old Englishman, who played for Celtic for four seasons from 1991-95. We have got to play Rangers twice and they are games we've obviously got to win and see if we can put some pressure on. It's obviously going to be very difficult for us. It's not an easy task for us but one we believe we can do and I'm sure there's points to be dropped along the way.
"But we've got to start winning football matches and start winning very quickly. Nothing has changed as far as I'm concerned. While we are disappointed we have lost the game we're trying to build a football team that can win week in week out and be very successful both domestically and in Europe and there was enough talent on the pitch to do that tonight (Tuesday)."
The Celtic manager was the busiest boss in Scotland during the January transfer window bringing in eight new faces and shipping out a similar number as he looked to put his stamp on the club he joined from West Bromwich Albion in the summer. Club captain Stephen McManus and top-scorer Scott McDonald headed to Middlesbrough on deadline day to make way for the loan signings of Diomansy Kamara and Spurs star Robbie Keane.
With such impressive additions to their attacking line-up Celtic were expected to dominate a Kilmarnock side hovering two points above bottom spot. However, Keane was upstaged by Kilmarnock debutant Chris Maguire who scored the only goal of the game seven minutes into the second half to give his new side their first win over the Hoops since May 2001.
Kilmarnock 'keeper Cameron Bell was on fine form as he denied Keane a hat-trick of chances in the first-half before he pulled off a point-blank save from the Republic of Ireland international in the final moments of the game. But Mowbray says he saw enough from Keane, who is reported to be picking up £65,000 a week during his four-month loan at the club he supported as a boy, to believe he will be a success in Scotland.
"He gives us a different dimension and got in some good areas. He is a high quality footballer and you saw that tonight in flashes," Mowbray said. "He will be better for the game I'm sure when he gets to know his new team-mates.
"I think there were flashes in evidence tonight of the quality we had out on the pitch but the night didn't roll for us. But we have to keep going, keep believing and let's see how the season unfolds."