Attendances have dwindled steadily this season as upset supporters stage protests and boycott games, angered by a number of issues including the sacking of former manager Kenny Shiels at the end of the last campaign.
The situation was exacerbated on Tuesday when the Kilmarnock chairman offered reduced ticket prices for visiting Celtic supporters in order to facilitate a boost in revenue for the financially-troubled club. The same offer was not made to the home support - Johnston blamed Scottish Professional Football League regulations for the decision - in a short-sighted move destined to strain tensions further as well as anger those visiting fans who had already purchased tickets at full price. Johnston has since offered two new incentives in an attempt to assuage the Rugby Park faithful, but for many it was too little, too late.
Allan Johnston, the Ayrshire club's manager, though, wants supporters to put their concerns to one side and arrive in numbers to back their struggling team. "The fans need to get back on our side," he insisted. "They need to give us the backing because at the end the day, we're playing for Kilmarnock Football Club. Obviously there's been a lot of issues behind the scenes, with what's been happening. [But] we've got to get the fans back on our side."
Johnston, who as a player never scored against Celtic, believes that a positive result against the Glasgow side could be the catalyst which helps draw the two warring factions at his club together. "It'd be a massive lift to everyone at the club, a major boost to the players," he said. "If we could get a good result it could just propel us on to bigger and better things."
Those better things had best come quickly. Kilmarnock's recent run of poor results - they have a paltry three points and no victories so far this season - has added further fire beneath an already scalding cauldron. Johnston gave no excuses, but insisted that their league position fails to tell a true story. "We shouldn't be where we are," he said bluntly. "We're putting ourselves under pressure for no reason. In the games we've played, only Aberdeen have been the better team."
Johnston accepted that despite the enmity in the background, he and his fellow coaches are responsible for what happens on the pitch. "You've got to get on with the football side of things, you can't make excuses," he said. "It's easy enough to sit here and say this, that and the next thing, but there has been a lot going on."
Watching Queen of the South, his former charges, take Hearts to a penalty shoot-out in the Scottish League Cup on Wednesday evening, Johnston might have been forgiven for wishing he had declined to sip from Kilmarnock's chalice when he was approached in the summer. "We had a settled team [at Queens], good players, as you can see from their results in the cups this season," he admitted. "But it was an opportunity to go to a big club and turn it around. If we get it right and get the fans behind us as well, I'm sure it will be a great job."
The former Scotland playmaker insisted he was aware of exactly what he was getting himself into when he agreed to take on the position. "I knew it was going to be difficult," he said. "There was going to be a massive cut in the budget, and a lot of first-team players left at the end of the season. But it's a challenge and it's up to us to turn it around."
That task might have been made a little easier by the signing of David Silva in the week - the club are still awaiting international clearance but it is expected to be a formality - and Johnston believes the winger gives his squad a cutting edge they have lacked. "He's different from what we've got with a little bit of pace and he can take people on," he explained.