There is a strange feeling surrounding this weekend’s Old Firm showdown. 

The Scottish Premiership match at Parkhead almost feels like it is playing second fiddle to the Scottish Cup semi-final, which is set to take place at Hampden Park at the end of the month.  

Arguments can be made that the title race is already dead and buried, and that is probably why this weekend’s blockbuster fixture does not have the usual buzz and hype surrounding it. 

The Premiership trophy does look certain to be heading to the east end of Glasgow come the end of the campaign, but despite the large points gap, this is still a huge game for Michael Beale and Rangers in so many different ways. 

The Ibrox manager simply must find a way to defeat Ange Postecoglou and Celtic in the final three derby fixtures of the season for the fans, the club and probably most importantly, for himself. 

Everyone knows the importance of silverware at Rangers and that is why the Scottish Cup semi-final will be pinpointed as the most important fixture of the three, and quite rightly so.  

If the club fail to retain the famous old trophy this campaign, the season will simply be viewed as a complete and utter disaster.  

Progress is hugely important at any football club, and Rangers have failed to show any signs of it since winning the league under Steven Gerrard and reaching the Europa League final with Giovanni van Bronckhorst.  

Instead, there is a feeling that Celtic are currently the dominant force again, and Beale cannot afford to allow this trend to continue, or the dreaded Glasgow pressure will begin to mount, much like it did with his predecessor. 

Rangers have certainly improved since Beale has come in, there is no question of that, and injury returns have ensured they are hard to beat again. 

Goals up the other end now seem to be the issue, but with Alfredo Morelos expected to leave the club in the summer, Beale will be hoping that a fresh frontline can supply him with the firepower that he needs to kick on next term. 

He explained on Saturday after victory over Dundee United: “It was another 28 shots today and you're getting seven on target. I think that that's an area as a team we're creating a lot but we need to be more ruthless.   

“We may need to recruit that in as well, so that's an eye opener for one or two, because these chances that we're creating, if we take them then obviously it will push us towards where we want to go." 

Given the squad he has at his disposal, things are probably about as good as they can be heading into an extremely important summer in terms of recruitment. 

"There are no restrictions on budget,” Beale continued. “There is money to spend in the summer - it's a good amount, I think, for a Rangers manager, compared to what I've seen in previous years. I'm really positive about the summer. 

"There has been a lot of work over the past week, speaking to players in house, and also looking more towards the recruitment for next year as well.” 

It must be remembered that Beale has inherited this squad and has had very little say in terms of the players he has at his disposal, but his positivity about the current situation that the club finds itself in must be admired. 

The Englishman may be positive for the future at the moment, but that confidence can easily be zapped if there is a poor run of results against their rivals in the season run-in. 

A pleasant break in the sun could all of a sudden become a downpour of stress and as we’ve seen in the past, jobs and working relationships can quickly unravel. Again, this is why Beale and his team must perform against Celtic in these there remaining derby fixtures, starting on Saturday. 

This weekend’s fixture can almost be viewed as a free hit for Beale to try and work his tactical knowledge into a successful game plan to topple Postecoglou’s well-oiled machine across the city. 

Club legend Barry Ferguson has predicted changes in the Rangers starting XI from the team that started in the League Cup final at the end of February, and I would find it hard to argue his case. 

Beale was criticised after the cup final in February for not opting to use his new signings, and he will likely not make the same mistake again given how much his midfield was overrun at the national stadium. 

Nikolas Raskin and Todd Cantwell only featured as substitutes in the match at Hampden, but they have both shown in recent weeks that they can provide a fresh and different approach to the Rangers midfield, something that was clearly lacking at the beginning of the campaign. 

Raskin missed Saturday’s match against Dundee United through injury, but if he is fit on Saturday, Beale must start him as a curveball for Postecoglou and his team. He looks like a real talent and is showing the signs of a player who can rise to the greatest of occasions.  

Beale must find the right mixture of Rangers experience and bloom this Saturday to kickstart a much-needed fightback to Postecoglou and Celtic. 

If he fails and the pressure mounts, there could well be trouble afoot.