Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers admitted it was clear they need to bring in new signings to improve the team after a goalless home draw with St Johnstone.
The hosts failed to score in consecutive domestic games for the first time since May 2018, when they did so soon after winning the title for the second time under Rodgers.
Celtic delivered another flat display following their 1-0 defeat in the Viaplay Cup at Kilmarnock to allow Rangers to cut their deficit on the cinch Premiership champions to a point before next Sunday’s Ibrox derby.
Matt O’Riley forced a hat-trick of impressive stops from Dimitar Mitov, but Celtic largely struggled to test the Saints goalkeeper and Joe Hart pulled off excellent second-half saves from debutant Dara Costelloe and substitute Stevie May.
Rodgers pinpointed the performance of summer signing Yang Hyun-jun as one of the positives along the return of Alistair Johnston, but he admitted they deserved to be booed off.
Swedish centre-back Gustaf Lagerbielke was the only other summer arrival to start and Rodgers is looking for new players ahead of Friday’s deadline that can hit the ground running after the club signed largely inexperienced players since his arrival.
When asked if he expected incomings, Rodgers said: “Hopefully. I think it’s clear… I have said before we have improved the squad with some of the players we have brought in, but we have lost starters. So we need to improve the team.
“And it’s always a challenge coming off the back of a season where you have won the treble.
“You have got to go again the following season where there is a greater expectation on you and more pressure.
“The fans will expect and rightly so. They were disappointed after the game and I am fully aware that if you draw at home to St Johnstone you deserve that bit of stick.
“There’s no numbers. I spoke with the club when I first came in and assessed the squad and we just need to improve that quality.
“It’s clear, if you see the team. When you look back at my first time here; the team was dynamic, it was fast, it was quick, got through the lines very quickly, created chances, scored goals.
“This is what we will eventually get to here, but we are missing certain profiles. Hopefully we can bring that into the squad and obviously be a lot cleaner and quicker in our play.”
The performance will further concern fans ahead of the meeting with Rangers, but Rodgers said: “Listen, when you are playing Rangers, whether you are home and away, it’s the easiest game ever as a manager in terms of motivation and commitment because it’s an obligation. You don’t have a choice in any game, and in particular in that game.
“It’s a disappointment, it feels like a loss when you don’t win, but the point might prove important for us at the end of the season.
“But the expectation when you are playing here is to win and we need to do more to do that.”
Saints moved off the bottom of the table with their first point after a difficult summer for Steven MacLean, which saw the new manager round off a disastrous Viaplay Cup campaign with a 4-0 home defeat by Stirling.
MacLean handed debuts to three new loan signings – Costelloe, Jay Turner-Cooke and Luke Robinson – and fielded eight summer arrivals in total, with skipper Liam Gordon starting on the bench.
His side were compact and organised, though, and the former Saints striker was delighted with the performance.
“All the new players we had, the way they worked, the togetherness of them, the work ethic, they did what we wanted them to do to the letter,” he said.
“You never know quite what you’re going to get. You see them doing good things in training but until you pitch them in, you never know.
“I’m delighted for them as well. They’re young, hungry players who want to kick on and play at a higher level. Hopefully we can help them to do that.”