ACH well, it was fun while it lasted.

The whole of Scottish football went Kilmarnock crazy earlier this week after the Rugby Park club leapfrogged both Celtic and Rangers into top spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership table. The excitement at the unexpected turn of events bordered on the hysterical.

Could the Ayrshire outfit, whose record against their Ibrox and Parkhead rivals has been exceptional since Steve Clarke was appointed manager late last year, remain there and challenge for the Scottish title this season?

This improbable top-of-the-table encounter at Celtic Park, though, swiftly extinguished whatever hopes Kilmarnock’s supporters may have had of “doing a Leicester” in the months ahead.

Goals from James Forrest, Odsonne Edouard, Mikael Lustig and Ryan Christie in the first-half had put the result of the game beyond doubt by half-time.

Eamonn Brophy came on for Aaron Tshibola and scored a penalty for Kilmarnock after referee Nick Walsh ruled that Filip Benkovic had tripped Rory McKenzie in his area.

However, a second Forrest strike in the second-half rounded off an excellent afternoon’s work by the defending champions. The margin of victory could have been even greater.

Brendan Rodgers’s side - who have, it was conveniently overlooked by many in recent days, two games in hand on Clarke’s team still to play – deposed their visitors as top flight leaders with the emphatic win and now sit two points clear.

“Stevie and his staff deserve a huge amount of credit for the work they have done,” said Rodgers. “They are up there on merit. But we can only concentrate on ourselves. When we play to a level in our game then we expect to win.

“That puts us in a good position, two points above them with two games in hand. But there is still a long way to go. That is only 15 games we have played. We have a bit of work to do.”

However, if Celtic can maintain this sort of scintillating form going forward they will extend their Europa League campaign beyond Christmas, wrap up their eighth consecutive Premiership title sooner rather than later and very possibly complete a third straight domestic treble come May.

Clarke stressed that nobody in the Kilmarnock camp had mentioned the possibility of winning the Premiership and insisted he was still content with their work in the past eight days.

"We didn't speak about titles,” he said. “There was a million questions from you guys (the media) and people talking out their backsides. It’s not that important for us. Six points from three games is still a good week for us.”

Kieran Tierney was ruled out of the game by an illness before kick-off and his place at left back was taken by Emilio Izaguirre. He was one of six changes that Rodgers made to his starting line-up. Elsewhere, Forrest, Lustig, Sinclair, Tom Rogic and Edouard came in as Cristian Gamboa, Jonny Hayes, Olivier Ntcham, Scott Brown and Leigh Griffiths dropped out.

The omission of Brown was intriguing with the Europa League game against Salzburg looming on Thursday night. The captain had made his first start since recovering from knee and hamstring injuries against Motherwell at Fir Park on Wednesday night. But Callum McGregor was preferred to him in the deep-lying midfielder role here.

Will Rodgers prefer McGregor in a massive fixture his men need to draw or win? It appears there is a very good chance.

Clarke replaced Kirk Broadfoot, Chris Burke and Brophy with Stuart Findlay, Tishbola and McKenzie. But his men fell behind in just the fifth minute when Forrest met an Izaguirre cross with a first-time volley with his left foot that left opposition keeper Daniel Bachmann with no chance.

Bachmann did superbly to deny Rogic twice in the space of three minutes shortly after that and his team mates seemed to grow in confidence as a result. Jordan Jones got a shot that Craig Gordon failed to hold on target in the 24th minute. But the hope that positive passage of play gave them was short-lived.

Kilmarnock fell further behind just a minute later when Edouard ran onto a Rogic pass, held off Scott Boyd and Findlay and slotted into the net. Lustig made it three 10 minutes later when he got on the end of a McGregor delivery into the six yard box.

Ryan Christie got in on the act in added-on time at the end of the first half when he curled a free-kick over the defensive wall from fully 25 yards out and into the top left corner. It was the midfielder’s seventh goal in 12 appearances.

He has some way to go, though, to match the form of his team mate Forrest, whose 67th minute effort took his tally for the 2018/19 campaign to 16 for club and country.

Rangers can edge in front again if they beat bottom-placed Dundee by four or more goals at Dens Park this afternoon. But that is a big if. Celtic have played a match less than them too.