RANGERS must try to make the most of their fan advantage in Saturday’s Old Firm derby if Steven Gerrard is to lead his side to victory over Celtic.
The Hoops have won on their last four visits to Ibrox – a run which is, remarkably, their best in over a century. But in recent weeks, they have definitely been below par away from home.
If the draws at Motherwell and Livingston hinted at vulnerability, defeat by Hibs at Easter Road will have proved to the Rangers manager the champions are there to be shot at.
Their struggles on the road have been a blessing in terms of ensuring the league continues to be one of the most interesting we have seen for many years.
We have had Hearts and Kilmarnock at the top of the division, and Aberdeen now appear to be coming through the pack.
I believe Saturday will tell us if that is a situation which is going to continue through the second half of the season.
Put simply, if Rangers win, we can settle in for a title race worthy of the name.
If Celtic were to win, however, then I think we will know they are heading for 8-in-a-row .
The confidence that result would give them going into the winter break would be significant.
Don’t forget that last season, one of their strongest spells of the Treble-winning campaign came on the back of their winter training camp in Dubai.
For now, that’s only a possibility. There are hurdles to be scaled before they can rest up.
And adding extra intrigue to the trip to Ibrox is the big change which has been made to the ticket allocation for away supporters.
Where Celtic would traditionally bring about 7,000, this weekend they will have only 750. When the fixture switches to the East End of Glasgow, Rangers will face a similar reduction.
It is a subject which has been much debated, but I think from the point of view of the promotion of Scottish football, it is clearly wrong.
The Old Firm derby is one of the most famous in the game, renowned throughout the world for its passion and intensity.
Move the goalposts so the support of the home team dwarves that of the visitors every time, and the spectacle will inevitably suffer.
There are going to be times when the visiting fans are celebrating and the home support is temporarily silenced.
That is the point when the TV cameras swing round to show the revelry. And that’s when it is going to hit home just what a big difference there is in the away team having a full stand as opposed to a wee pocket in the corner.
A different question is what impact it will have on the matches.
Ibrox generates a pretty intense atmosphere anyway, and the Rangers fans will be out to drown out the songs of their rivals.
That is unlikely to have a detrimental impact on the Celtic players themselves, but will inspire the Rangers players to ever greater efforts.
That’s crucial, because if they are to win, then I think they will have to mimic the approach adopted by Hibs in victory against Celtic and match the visitors in terms of tempo and energy, shutting down their opponents’ time and space at every turn.
Can they do it?
I think they can, because that was exactly the way they played against Hibs at Easter Road in midweek.
Rangers were impressive and, for me, would have taken all three points had they been a bit more clinical in front of goal.
At home, with a majority of fans roaring them on from all four stands, and the likes of Alfredo Morelos and Kyle Lafferty on the premises, I fancy them to do better.
If not, the few Celtic fans allowed into Ibrox may have the bragging rights among their fellow supporters well into 2019.