WHAT must be said before anything else is that the game ended in a draw because Celtic were dreadful and Rangers carried out their instructions from Graeme Murty to the letter.

And given what most of us believed was going to happen, it was the men from Ibrox who emerged with a moral victory.

But this was seriously poor fair. There were times when what happened on the park hurt the eyes. That time lasted 90 or so minutes.

You spend all year defending Scottish football and the biggest game on the calendar – and it remains just that no matter what some claim – was an error-riddled mess devoid of skill.

It was the wild shots. And the misplaced passes. And those passes which went directly out of the pitch. And the crosses to nobody. And the awful set-pieces. And the playing out from the back which only succeeded in giving away possession. And the heavy touches. My God, the heavy touches.

I have been watching these games almost all of my near 45 years and yesterday was the worst in terms of quality. There have been bad ones before, even boring Old Firm matches, but I cannot recall a previous encounter when so many mistakes were made by both teams.

Rangers did their job and deserve credit for that. They didn’t play well, that would be stretching it, but they came close to a goal. They actually might have nicked it.

As for Celtic, the overwhelming pre-match favourites, every time they did one thing right, three mistakes were made. By the end, their support were more bemused than angry.

It hurt the ears as well, which it always does. Amid the usual bile from both sets, a song came from the away section about the remaining Lisbon Lions dying. Lovely.

A draw was right and Murty can be proud of himself.

In saying that, Celtic should have won in that they got themselves into far more dangerous positions but failed to take their chances. They never looked like scoring.

What Brendan Rodgers must have thought as he watched players who have constantly performed for him playing as if they had been on the beer the previous night.

Scott Brown was the best player on the park and eventually a few of his team-mates found a bit of form. Kieran Tierney had a good game, a few others were OK, but some were so far off the pace.

Celtic’s captain is Player of the Year even if he never kicks another ball this season.

Mikael Lustig, a Swedish international who is going to the World Cup, had his worst game ever. There was a spell early in the first half when the right-back, who has been superb this season, seemed determined to gift Rangers a goal.

Scott Sinclair has been stolen by aliens and replaced by a lookalike. Moussa Dembele offered nothing. Indeed, his performance was a disgrace.

What needs to be said is that Rangers turned up at Celtic Park and with a plan.

This time they would not stand off Celtic. Tackles would be made, fouls would be committed (there were early bookings for Niko Kranjcar and Danny Wilson), Brown must not be allowed to dictate, and they would stay in the game and hope.

They, too, gave the impression this was their first match but at least they did what they were told.

It is hard to see what Kranjcar brings to the team, especially in a game like this. As one wag on social media put it: “I’ve covered more ground than Kranjcar going to my fridge for a beer.”

Wilson was terrific, the stand-out after Brown, and young David Bates can be proud of himself after being thrown on in the first half when Bruno Alves limped off, perhaps never to be seen again.

It was, apart from anything else, a strange affair.

Celtic should have been ahead by the break. James Forrest, Sinclair (twice), Dedryck Boyata and Dembele all passed up good chances.

Sinclair managed to put a shot wide from eight yards just before half time.

So, when on 47 minutes, Craig Gordon pulled off a wonder save to deny James Tavernier, it was easily the best bit off football.

And Gordon produced an even better example of goalkeeping not long after when he kept out a point-blank header from Alfredo Morelos.

There were brief moments when a game of football threatened to break out but while Celtic did more attacking and enjoyed more possession, they ran into a wall of blue. They lacked the imagination to get past it.

As the game went on, and on, Rangers looked the stronger and Morelos, set up by a superb Tavernier cross, managed to send a header past when unmarked right in front of goal.

But this game didn’t deserve a goal. If ever a 0-0 was a fitting end to a Celtic-Rangers match, it was this one.

Apologies for the moaning and general sourness of this rant. Blame the players. I have.

I will end with something which, of course, nobody will agree with. Referee Bobby Madden had a superb afternoon.