IT is 44 Old Firm games and out for Scott Brown, and as sad as it may be to say, perhaps not a moment too soon.

The Celtic skipper will be remembered at the club for his outstanding contribution to an unprecedented era of success, not this final wretched encounter – from his and Celtic’s point of view, at least - in a dead rubber in front of an empty Ibrox. And he will be remembered too among the Celtic support for some colossal performances in this fixture over the years.

But, it has to be said, it was a game that perhaps vindicated Brown’s decision to move on to the next chapter in his career. A match too far, in what perhaps was a season too far for him and for this Celtic side.

Brown lasted just under an hour in his final match for Celtic against Rangers, and he may have been relieved when his number came up. With and without him though, Celtic were shambolic for the most part here, and Brown’s diminishing influence was never going to be enough to bridge the gap between these sides in terms of desire and organisation.

He wasn’t helped here by the early dismissal of midfield partner Callum McGregor, mind you, whose rash challenge on Glen Kamara to pick up a second booking rather left Brown alone in the trenches. By that time though, the alarm bells were already sounding loud and clear.

It was perhaps unsurprising that Brown’s first involvement was to foul Allan McGregor at a corner, and his next notable action was to dump Ryan Kent on his backside in the midfield. He made a rather more constructive contribution when he won the ball back from Joe Aribo, sending Moi Elyounoussi away to crack a long-range effort off the bar. But the next minute or so rather summed up where Brown, and ultimately Celtic, are at this moment in time. And it was a microcosm of their entire season.

Rangers went up the other end, with Kent skipping away from Brown with ease. McGregor took an uncharacteristic rush of blood to the head in a desperate attempt to salvage the situation, lunging in on Kamara, and Celtic were about to be punished in severe fashion as referee Nick Walsh signalled an advantage.

No sooner had Kemar Roofe made the most of that call by producing a clever finish off his chest to put Rangers ahead, than Walsh had his cards in his hands and was flashing a second yellow and a red towards McGregor.

There were some worries about Walsh’s inexperience getting the better of him early on as he went quickly to his pocket and cautioned Rangers centre-back Jack Simpson in harsh circumstances, but to be fair to the official, he got this big call absolutely spot on.

It looked as though it was going to be another long afternoon for Celtic on the south side of the city, but remarkably, they hit back straight away. David Turnbull’s deep corner was nodded back across goal, and there was Odsonne Edouard to bundle home.

Suddenly, Brown was barking at his teammates again and trying to illicit a defiant response, but ultimately, despite nibbling back at their heels, it was Rangers who always possessed the bigger bite. And unfortunately for Brown, he was at the centre of things again as Rangers seized the lead once more, and ultimately seized control of the match.

There have been many notable rivals to Brown over the course of his Old Firm career. Players he has gone toe-to-toe with, from El Hadji-Djouf to Alfredo Morelos, and very few have had the last laugh. Morelos though can enjoy such a moment.

The striker ran straight at Brown in the area, managing to smuggle the ball through his legs and get past him all too easily, and he then slammed the ball high into the net. Brown will have been disappointed with his role in the goal yet again, as will Scott Bain, with the ball flying in directly over his head. It was a powerful effort, but the keeper should have done better.

This time, there was no response. Yes, David Turnbull should have hauled Celtic level after being found in the area by a delightful James Forrest cross, but as his header slid wide, the let-off seemed only to jag Rangers back to life.

Soon after, Joe Aribo swung the ball in at the other end, and there was Roofe to emphatically head home and end the game as a contest. Such as it was by that stage, in any case.

John Kennedy had spoked in the lead up to the game about the need for Celtic to show greater conviction in both boxes, and in those two moments, his players had shown they had failed to heed those words. As they have done all season.

It was time for Brown to take his leave. He handed the armband to Ajer and trudged off the pitch, an ignominious end to an Old Firm career of which he can rightly be proud when he reflects upon it in years to come.

This afternoon for him and his team to forget though was rounded off in the final stages, Brown watching on helplessly from the stand as Jermaine Defoe turned Stephen Welsh inside out and finished across Bain to make it four.

It was game over. For this Celtic team, and at last, for Brown.