WHEN the tens of thousands of supporters descending on Mount Florida over two days this weekend disembark the train close to the national stadium in Glasgow’s south side, they’ll probably just about be able to hear the familiar “please mind the gap” warning over the public address system above the usual pre-match din.

For the three sets of Scottish Cup semi-final supporters donning blue scarves across the two semi-finals, there are various awnings to their current and potential opposition in the tournament they will have to negotiate to get their hands on the trophy.

Falkirk have another semi-final to contest in their bid to reach the cinch Championship after securing second place in Scotland’s third tier this season; on Saturday, John McGlynn’s side take on Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who themselves occupy a promotion play-off place to the Premiership. Can the Bairns dare to dream of a showpiece occasion in May? Of course they can.

Should Billy Dodds' resurgent Highlanders prevail at the weekend, however, they will face the ominous task of squaring up to one of the top two sides in the top flight in the final. Will their supporters believe they can overcome that final hurdle? Of course they will.

For cup romantics, having clubs in the lower divisions guaranteed a shot at the showpiece final against Celtic or Rangers is what the competition is all about. No one would describe their defying the odds to lift the famous old trophy as a sign that they have bridged the gap to their duopolistic opponents should a blue moon be sighted in the Glasgow skies come May, however.

This is where Rangers ought to show a bit of constraint regardless of the outcome on Sunday. In recent days, Ibrox legend and Sky Sports co-commentator Ally McCoist suggested the gap between his old club and the Scottish champions had closed slightly. Yesterday, Nico Raskin reiterated this claim from within the current first team. It’s a confounding one coming on the back of the most recent Premiership encounter between the rivals, the 3-2 victory for Ange Postecoglou’s side at Parkhead earlier this month which ostensibly increased the gap in the league standings.

Last weekend, despite champions-elect Celtic dropping points at home to Motherwell on Saturday, Rangers saw that gap increase a point further to 13 after losing 2-0 to Aberdeen at Pittodrie. While that double-figures chasm tells its own story, should Celtic take another step towards a mind-blowing fifth treble in seven years, surely any suggestion the gap is closing needs re-examining.

None of this, however, makes Sunday’s Old Firm clash, where a 50-50 split of supporters will roar on their sides at Hampden, any less interesting a spectacle.

On the league front, meanwhile, the question of what counts as a spectacle has been raised since Sky Sports announced their coverage of post-split fixtures. With the gap between bottom and ninth in the contest to avoid relegation between St Johnstone, Dundee United, Kilmarnock and Ross County, the decision not to show any bottom-six matches live on Sky Sports was met with consternation by many Scottish football supporters.

Given that many blame the main broadcasters of the Premiership for the often-derided league split after three rounds of fixtures for ensuring they have four Old Firm derbies to sell to their punters, it is also one which has ruffled some already frayed feathers. It is ironic given that the jeopardy involved in that bottom-half scrap should be a celebrated consequence of the controversial split.

Likewise, there has been much criticism of the decision to only show Celtic and Rangers’ away matches and the one remaining Glasgow derby, which is of little real consequence. While these objections are understandable, the interests of the broadcaster will always be to attract subscriptions and advertising. It doesn’t take Mad Men’s Don Draper to tell you through which two clubs they are most likely to achieve these goals.

But do Sky have an obligation to promote the league, given their commercial relationship? If we put on the Don Draper fedora for a minute, many of those taking out Sky Sports subscriptions in Scotland do so as part of an overall package. It gives them access to other sports, to the Premier League, and if they happen to be Celtic or Rangers season-ticket holders, it allows them to watch virtually every away match their club plays in. Crucially, there is a sufficient audience to make this economically viable. So despite the relative dead-rubber nature of their final five fixtures of the campaign, these viewers signed up on the premise that they would be able to watch all of their team’s matches. As for commercial premises, how many punters are going to turn up at pubs up and down the country for Dundee United v Ross County as opposed to the final, albeit meaningless, Old Firm derby?

There are genuine cases to be made about the final Edinburgh derby of the season, the contest for third place between Aberdeen and Hearts, and in the bottom-half matches between Kilmarnock, Dundee United and bottom-markers County in particular. But the idea that a commercial broadcaster should act in the interests of promoting the SPFL’s product before those of their paid-up subscribers belongs in the same fantasy land as the closed-gap theory. One thing is for sure, however: we’ll all get along to Hampden or tune in over the weekend, many more in hope than expectation.