Walter Smith described it as the worst Old Firm day he has experienced since his return as Rangers manager but Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon refused to read anything into Sunday’s 3-0 derby win.

Gary Hooper scored twice and newcomer Kris Commons grabbed the third as the Scottish League leaders secured a vital Parkhead win.

Lennon’s team now lead Rangers by eight points but have two more games played than their Glasgow rivals which may explain why the manager refused to get carried away with the victory.

“Other people might say it was a pivotal day but not me,” insisted the former Northern Ireland midfielder.

“We are very pleased, we are more than pleased, because that was emphatic.

“There are still 12 or 13 games to go in the season. In 2005, we had six or seven games left and still lost the league so there is still a lot of football to be played.

“It’s going to get a bit more fraught and tense between now and the end of the season and I’m hoping we have the mentality to handle that.”

Lennon did concede however that his team has tilted the balance of power in Scotland back in their favor.

He admitted: “It was a wonderful performance and the team did everything we asked of them. I couldn’t be happier with them.

“It was a real acid test, as people were calling it before the game. Could this team get over the line? They answered all the questions today.

“It’s not just Rangers, since the turn of the year we have played very well against all the opposition we have faced.

“Today was a big day in the context of the season and it will give the players a huge lift, a huge shot in the arm, because Rangers are a good team, a strong team, but we played very well.

“For the first time in a while, we are in charge again and it’s in our hands and not theirs. As a team, as a collective, we were excellent today.”

Double goalscorer Hooper said self-belief was the biggest factor behind the Celtic win.

“We showed with this performance that our mental strength is really good, we are performing well and everybody is comfortable on the ball,” said Hooper.

“Maybe we are just more confident. Not much has changed so maybe we just believe in ourselves more now.

“It was a perfect result and the performance was too. We kept a clean sheet and scored goals and that’s what we need to do.”

Neil Lennon, Celtic Coach