ALLY McCoist knows whereof he speaks when it comes to Glasgow derbies. No-one has scored more goals in Celtic v Rangers matches than the 27 he racked up in 54 outings, scoring after only 33 seconds in his Old Firm debut (a 2-1 defeat at Parkhead) in 1983 and signing off with a diving header in a 2-1 Scottish Cup semi-final victory 15 years later.

He experienced another 26 at the business end in five-and-a-half seasons as Walter Smith’s No.2 before taking the reins himself for four games before the club’s financial implosion in 2012.

Add to that the number of encounters he has witnessed as a supporter before and after those periods and he was entitled to assume there was nothing new the fixture could throw at him.

However, the 55-year-old admits he could not believe what he was watching during the first half at Parkhead on Sunday as the home side enjoyed 75% of the possession. The 800 Rangers supporters present had anticipated claiming a victory which would have confirmed their belief that they could end the hosts’ hegemony.

Instead, they failed to press the play as new manager Steven Gerrard appeared intent on damage limitation.

“I haven’t seen that before,” McCoist admitted. “I also haven’t spoken to Steven so I don’t know what the exact plan was, tactically, because if you’re going to sit off Celtic – and that looked like what it was – then I’m not sure I would have selected two up front. If that was the case, I’d have gone with five in the middle of the park and said to Celtic: ‘Okay, you can have the ball in that area but then we’re going to close you down.’

“But, with two forwards, you need to play higher up the pitch. As it was, Celtic were comfortable on the ball; Scott Brown is very good at making space for himself and he’s been doing that for years now.

“However, when Celtic go to play Hibs at Easter Road or Hearts at Tynecastle – and I know playing at Parkhead is different – they’re up against a different level of intensity than they were on Sunday.

“When Hearts beat them twice there recently, the matches were more like Old Firm games than the one on Sunday was.”

Ironically, it was when Rangers finally elected to show some ambition that Celtic hit them on the break, with Olivier Ntcham scoring the only goal of the game. McCoist draws succour, though, from the belief that the Rangers manager will never again adopt such an ultra-cautious approach in the derbies to come.

“I wouldn’t have thought so,” he said. “Listen, Steven Gerrard and Gary McAllister have more football knowledge between them than most managerial partnerships in the country.

“Not only was it the management’s team first Old Firm game but it was the first for seven of their players as well. I’d be hopeful that experience will have serve as…not so much a lesson but they’ll understand what it’s all about now because it is a unique fixture.

“I was talking to Graeme Souness last week. You think of the games he played in and he genuinely thinks there’s nothing like Rangers v Celtic game and Kenny Dalglish is the same.”

The decision by the visitors to pull all 11 players back into their penalty area to defend set-pieces during that opening 45 minutes at the weekend also baffled McCoist.

“I thought was a little strange, especially when you have two forwards on the pitch,” he said. “If he could have got away with it, Walter Smith would’ve tried to sneak substitutes on at the posts when we were defending set-pieces but you do need to have an out ball.

“However, we didn’t get up the park at all, even with the front men out there. The gap between our defenders and our forwards was too big.

“Then, instead of our defence pushing up to make the game tighter, the forwards actually came back to meet them and Rangers weren’t attacking Celtic at all.

“Celtic haven’t looked too convincing defensively and I think Rangers gave them too much respect at the weekend, I really do.

“There was definitely an element of that because the teams which have had any success against Celtic recently have been bang at it and in their faces.

“I’ve seen that at Rugby Park and Tynecastle and to have any chance of beating Celtic you have to play at a certain tempo. You need to show aggression – and by that I don’t mean kicking people.

“But you need to close people down aggressively and not give them time on the ball because that’s when Celtic look their most vulnerable.

“I don’t think they’re great defensively but you have to get at them to prove that and Rangers didn’t do it on Sunday.”