THE phraseology – that of ‘battles’, ‘clashes’ and ‘wars’ – is well used around the Old Firm by both the Press and the punters as matches and individual head-to-heads are hyped.

In recent days, those same terms have been attached to Rangers and Celtic once again, but in a far more serious context. On this occasion, the three points matter little.

At the start of the week, all the discussion amongst supporters was focused on the fall-out from the derby at Parkhead as Steven Gerrard’s side moved to within two points of Celtic.

Then, as the clocks ticked into 2020 on Tuesday night, it was about the transfer window and who would go, who would stay and who would head into the second half of the campaign in the stronger position to go and claim the title.

By the time fans on both sides were looking ahead to the weekend, their attentions had shifted to the Middle East as Gerrard, and Parkhead counterpart Neil Lennon, prepared to assemble their sides in Dubai.

Before Friday, the name of Major General Qassem Soleimani would only have been known to those that take a keen interest in the goings on in this part of the world.

The political and religious divides in the region are unfathomable to many but everyone will surely understand the fragile state of what peace there is here as leaders arm those on the ground and flex their military muscles.

It was only after his death – the 62-year-old killed by a drone strike in Baghdad - that Maj Gen Soleimani’s influence in Iran became more widely understood.

His assassination, ordered by President Donald Trump, has escalated tensions between Iran and the United States and there were warnings that westerners should leave the United Arab Emirates as fears of retaliatory attacks grew.

On Saturday, the US national team confirmed they had called off a trip to Doha due to the ‘developing situation’, while the Home Office issued advice stating that ‘British nationals in the region should remain vigilant and keep up to date with the latest developments, including via the media and this travel advice.’

There has been no mass exodus, though, and nor will there be right now. While the political powerbrokers on both sides of the world plot their next move, life goes on for those that live and work here, and those that visit.

It was business as usual for the Old Firm – and Aberdeen as they prepare to travel on Wednesday - and any talk of their winter breaks being cancelled was played down.

Gerrard and a handful of his players had jetted out to Dubai after the derby victory and the 39-year-old was joined at his hotel by the Celtic squad as they arrived from their respective holiday destinations. Having packed his bags, Gerrard has now got back down the business.

The Old Firm squads have gathered for training camps played out under extraordinary physical and political backdrops and the time in the Middle East gives Gerrard a chance to refocus minds as the Gers prepare for what could be a historic second half of the campaign.

The famous Nad al Sheba Sports Complex will be Rangers’ base for the remainder of the week and Celtic will also use the pristine parks and state-of-the art facilities. Gerrard, his staff and his players will meet supporters at an event on Friday before Lokomotiv Tashkent, the Uzbekistani Super League champions, provide the opposition on Saturday as Rangers return to action a fortnight after their Old Firm triumph.

Dubai may only be separated from Iran by a narrow strip of the Persian Gulf but it feels like a world away as the towers stretch up into the clear blue sky, the water shimmers around the yachts in the Marina and the supercars waft along the highways.

Rangers moved up a level between Gerrard’s first pre-season in Fuengirola and his second in the Algarve last summer. The same can be said of their winter camp, with this trip to Dubai coming 12 months after a stint in Tenerife last term.

The Light Blues will want for nothing in terms of their surroundings this week and there will be no excuses for Gerrard’s side. They have to hit the ground running and build on their Old Firm momentum.

The coming months in the Premiership certainly aren’t a matter of life and death. Having won their own battle, though, Rangers must now win the war this term.