THE Halloween decorations aren’t even down and already there is chatter in the air about the season potentially concluding with another final-day Helicopter Sunday shoot-out.

With Celtic and Rangers separated only on goals scored heading in to the 10th match of the campaign then it is understandable there is a growing feeling among some that this could be the closest conclusion to a title race in 15 years.

Having nine-in-a-row settled by goal difference would serve as the ultimate Scottish football drama, placing an additional burden on already overworked cardiologists given how many hearts would struggle to cope should that scenario come to pass.

Which club ends up on top will ultimately come down to a number of things: mental strength, depth of squad once injuries and suspensions take their toll, and the impact of Europe if one or both extend their stay beyond Christmas. All will play a role.

The most significant factor, however, will be which of the two clubs can hang on to their star striker once the January transfer window rolls around.

For if there is anything likely to keep Steven Gerrard or Neil Lennon awake at night it will be the thought of bids coming in for Alfredo Morelos or Odsonne Edouard respectively that turn out to be too lucrative for their club to turn down.

And those offers will surely come. Strikers who score regularly in the Scottish Premiership alone don’t always feature on the radar of clubs in England or in Europe simply because of the disregard with which our top division is unfairly held by many beyond our borders.

But when a player is scoring regularly in Europe – as Morelos is doing this season – or for the France Under-21 side – Bonjour Monsieur Edouard – then the realisation quickly dawns far and wide that these are players who could easily augment most squads.

Gerrard said recently it was his plan to “downsize” in January but presumably selling Morelos was not what he had in mind.

Jermain Defoe has shown himself to be an able deputy both off the bench and as the occasional starter but it is inconceivable that Rangers could win the title if Morelos were to move on midway through the season.

Celtic fans like to point out that the Colombian has yet to score against them in two years as an indicator that he is merely a flat-track bully who can only net against the smaller teams. But Morelos’ European record this season firmly places that accusation in the bin. Goals home and away against Midtjylland, the winner at home to Legia Warsaw and then strikes away to both Young Boys and Porto underline his pedigree.

The composure he demonstrated in Portugal on Thursday night to take a touch after collecting Borna Barisic’s searching cross before finishing into the top corner was another sign of a player increasingly comfortable at that level.

This is his third season in Scottish football and it is maybe a surprise that Morelos has remained here for as long as he has. He rarely does interviews with local media making it impossible to know whether he feels settled here or is eager to test himself at a higher level.

There is a school of thought that his precarious temperament has deterred some clubs from following up initial interest in him. Even on that front, however, Morelos seems to be finally getting the message. By this point last season he already had nine yellow cards (including the sending off at Pittodrie that was later downgraded to a booking) and one red. In comparison, the 23-year-old has been booked just five times this season.

Rangers’ finances have been bolstered by a second season of European football although their mettle will surely be tested if a bid north of £20m was to be waved underneath their noses in January. Given it would be effectively surrendering a ninth league title to Celtic, it would take some guts from the Ibrox board to accept it.

Celtic are not quite so reliant on Edouard for goals as Rangers are on Morelos but it would also leave their supporters distinctly unhappy were the Frenchman allowed to depart at the halfway point of such an important season.

The club has not been slow in recent years to accept offers from England and beyond that they felt were commensurate with a player’s worth – Moussa Dembele, Kieran Tierney and Stuart Armstrong in recent seasons – and the growing clamour surrounding Edouard will see their resolve tested once more.

The goalposts have moved on this one, however. Not only do Celtic have to factor in the £9m they shelled out to sign the 21-year-old in the summer of 2018 when they decide Edouard’s worth, they also have to take cognisance of the threat to their dominance posed by Rangers this season, far greater than anything they have encountered for many years.

Celtic held their nerve in squeezing £25m out of Arsenal for Tierney and will surely be looking for at least another 50 per cent on top of that for Edouard. Their finances are healthier than Rangers’ and they don’t need to sell but every player has a price.

There will be many twists and turns to come in a long title race. But whoever can hold their bottle in January will likely reap the benefits come May.