No clash between the green and the blue has ever (really) been meaningless but there is, at the moment, so much more to consider that the build-up has been relatively low-key.
As such, and with nothing on the line, it seems set up for an obvious home win.
Under their present manager, the home side has made a habit of bottling it in big games; that list now running to an impressive length, if not quite as lengthy as the charge-sheet against the man in charge in the East via the governing body.
Cup semi finals against lower-league opposition; key derbies; cup finals against less-fancied sides: all are possible occasions for the second side in Glasgow to misfire and underperform.
The nailed-down treble was reduced to the sure-fire double, and eventually left only the tainted title. Unfair? Yes. Celtic might well have won this year’s championship had Rangers been unaffected by administration and had enjoyed either Naismith or Jelavic for the majority of the season but such is the way of football that even some former heroes of Parkhead have expressed reservations. Celtic had a great run both side of Ibrox pumpings and have done well to guarantee their first title in a few years. But nobody is going to remember 2011-12 for their title win.
For all that, it is hard to guess which Rangers side we will see tomorrow: It could be the outfit that won the last Glasgow derby or has performed well in some away games of late, or it might be a side looking towards the end of the season and wondering where their future lies. Which side needs the win more? The home side has to win: the embarrassment of performance and discipline last time out (when some fans spoke of how they had waited their entire lives for such an opportunity to gloat and win the championship at the home of their rivals) would have set alarm bells ringing within the boardroom and the office of the manager, assuming he is permitted to access said room.
An way win – by a group of players who have been under incredible personal and professional pressure – would be remarkable. Captain Davis is missing and just as we move to the time of the year when Kyle ‘Calendar’ Lafferty makes a huge impression, he threatens to convince many fans that their initial thoughts on him were indeed correct.
A reversal would ensure that the hollow feeling simmering away under the surface would begin to nag away at a good number of the home faithful. Only the prospect of Rangers being severely punished and/or losing their status in the SPL/as a senior Club would keep the natives warm over what may be a wet summer. If that does not go as hoped then it is hard to overstate the potential deflation.
One can get odds of 4-1 on Betfair for a Rangers win. If you fancy it (and Rangers were 3-1 before the last game) then please take advantage of that or other similar deals and don’t give any money to William Hill. Some might think it should be 1,000-1. For this champion team – free from pressure, not constantly reminded of their inability to perform when that pressure is on and their character is tested and found too often to be wanting – to fail to win comprehensively, and even up the score in terms of derby wins this season, would be somewhere between unforgiveable and the final straw. We have already had the replacement referee praised by the second-in-command of the hosts, so there are no excuses left.
Enjoy the game.