The result is all that really matters in the end, but what makes this fixture so compelling is the subplots and narratives that, more often than not, add up to provide a thrilling spectacle.

Both Celtic and Rangers’ recent league form has been flawless, but that nine-point gap between them ensures they will kick-off on Saturday in very different head spaces. Ange Postecoglou’s side can effectively confirm a second consecutive title in extending their advantage to 12 points, and have inflicted some serious misery on their rivals at Parkhead in recent meetings.

Michael Beale, meanwhile, is largely building for the future. That rebuild, however, requires evidence he can best Postecoglou over 90 minutes, and how his players handle 60,000 Celtic fans with no backing of their own might just help make up the manager’s mind as to who he wants to take with him for the long haul.

As ever, winning individual battles is the first port of call on the way to securing derby success. Here, we take a look at five key contests across the pitch.

Daizen Maeda vs James Tavernier

Celtic have made Rangers pay down the flanks time and again in this fixture of late, and it was from Rangers’ right from which they opened the scoring at Hampden in February. Maeda is a stick-on to play in these games, both for his threat in behind and relentlessness in hunting opponents out of possession.

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If it is to be Alexandro Bernabei making his derby debut at left-back, then the Japan international’s presence becomes doubly important in helping out his team-mate as Tavernier attempts to push forward. Celtic have targeted Borna Barisic with runners at the back post, but perhaps the best way to eliminate that threat is stopping it at source, and that’s where Tavernier comes in.

Kyogo Furuhashi vs Connor Goldson

Goldson was typically honest in his assessment of Rangers’ campaign earlier this week, but he knows talk is cheap. Even with a win this weekend, perhaps the best he and his team can hope for is laying down a marker for future campaigns.

Keeping Celtic’s talisman in check for 90 minutes at Parkhead would be a considerable confidence boost to a backline which has not enjoyed recent visits to this venue. Kyogo will drift around looking for signs of weakness, but Goldson himself will likely feel it is his responsibility to ensure the striker does not elude he and his colleagues’ attentions the way he did so devastatingly in February.

It will be intriguing to see if Beale opts to deploy three centre-backs, as he has toyed with doing in recent weeks, in a bid to keep the league leaders at bay.

Callum McGregor vs ???

Probably the most important contest, and one of the biggest conundrums facing Beale this wee. Just how does his team go about stopping the Celtic captain? McGregor was imperious in the cup final, albeit he faced little in the way of serious resistance, particularly in the first-half.

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From a Rangers perspective, that simply cannot be allowed to happen again. But who does Beale elect to try and keep McGregor quiet? There is no obvious candidate with the requisite skillset.

A man marking job is not really what the likes of Malik Tillman and Todd Cantwell are all about, and their attacking influence is needed at its’ maximum if the Ibrox side are to conjure up the victory they so badly need.

Aaron Mooy vs Ryan Jack

Beale paired John Lundstram with Glen Kamara in midfield last time out and the result was decidedly pedestrian. Things improved with the introduction of Jack and Nicolas Raskin, and the former now has more than enough game-time under his belt to merit a starting berth.

Mooy was a fitness doubt for Celtic but was pictured training earlier this week, suggesting he will be ready come 12.30 on Saturday. Again, it comes down to Rangers being able to impose themselves on one of Celtic’s most intelligent players. Mooy cleverly picked up a pocket of space for Kyogo’s opener at the national stadium, the kind of moment Jack will be required to put a stop to.

But just as important is what he does in possession. Lundstram, in particular, toiled to handle the ball effectively under Celtic’s pressure and Rangers continually turned the ball over, allowing them to build attack after attack.

Cameron Carter-Vickers vs Alfredo Morelos

Celtic’s fast starts, and Rangers’ slow ones, have been pivotal to the outcome at Parkhead over the last two meetings and it is imperative the visitors do not allow themselves to be overwhelmed by that early storm.

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Defending competently helps, of course, but they will need an out ball to stop the onslaught, which is where Morelos will need to deliver. The Colombian is Rangers’ best option for getting themselves out of trouble, and he will be required to impose himself on Carter-Vickers.

Even in victory, Celtic have given up chances to their rivals in these games but too often they have not been clinical enough. Morelos did help himself to a consolation in the previous game and the onus will be on him to deliver again.