YOU know, if beating Celtic is the measure, Derek McInnes might just make a good Rangers manager after all.

What a difference a day makes for Brendan Rodgers. Or, more accurately, 90 minutes plus stoppage time at Rugby Park.

Fresh from partaking in a little bit of trademark, twinkle-eyed mischief in positing that McInnes would be an ideal fit for the Ibrox dugout, he fell victim to his brilliantly organised Kilmarnock side to lose his perfect Celtic cup record.

Rodgers had popped a little shot across Michael Beale’s bows in the Sunday papers, wrapped up in a sincere compliment about McInnes’s managerial ability, with the intention clearly to sow a little seed of doubt about his position after a laboured start to Rangers’ season. And he looked to have worked a great many of the Ibrox support into something of a froth in the process.

READ MORE: Brendan Rodgers in Celtic 'grieve' admission after cup exit

Justifiably so, it could be argued. Managers are great ones for proclaiming that they never talk about personnel at other clubs. Until it suits them, that is.

Ironically, one of the reasons that Rodgers may have sensed a weakness to Beale’s position, and a chance just to attempt to bring the simmering pressure around his Ibrox rival to a boil through the back pages, was due to Rangers’ opening day Premiership defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

That was heightened further still when Beale’s men struggled to squeak past Morton at Ibrox on Saturday and into the last eight of the Viaplay Cup, but they managed it, and the fact that Celtic could not join them there means that the spotlight will now instead pivot on Rodgers.

Before delving further into that though, the spotlight should first be shone on the job that McInnes is doing at Rugby Park, and the feats of his team in this early part of the season.

Yes, the pitch and all that. It has to be acknowledged the advantage the synthetic surface – which as an aside, should be nowhere near our top division in my view – gives to Killie, but to reduce their achievements as being simply down to the pitch is to do McInnes and his men a disservice.

Amid Rodgers’ mischief-making after all were truths about McInnes’s Kilmarnock.

"Every manager has their ups and downs,” Rodgers said. 

“But you see over a period of time the work and level of work he has done. His teams are, for me, always up there with the best organised in the country and up there being really competitive.”

It’s hard to argue with any of that. So, all credit to him and to Killie, with the Rugby Park faithful now daring to dream of Hampden and a top half finish in the Premiership, rather than the grim fight for survival that characterised their first season back in the top-flight.

As for Rodgers, well, he now has bigger things to concern himself with than the chances of McInnes ever again being given the opportunity to manage Rangers. To bother a phrase from when McInnes surprisingly turned down the Rangers job at the 11th hour a few years ago, such mind games come with concomitant risk.

READ MORE: Rodgers in blunt Killie 'pitch' response after Celtic loss

Ordinarily, while any defeat at Celtic is a cause for alarm and a week of recriminations, a cup defeat that ends their hopes of defending their Treble is verging on a disaster. As ridiculous as it sounds, given that Rodgers was the one who kicked off this incredible run of clean sweeps that have almost made a Treble the expectation at the club, there will undoubtedly now be pressure that falls on his shoulders.

It wasn’t so long ago that the prospect of Rodgers returning to Celtic as manager was fanciful, owing to the manner of his departure first time around. That the hatchet has largely been buried from the point of view of the support towards a man that some of them labelled as a ‘fraud’ when he left is, you feel, conditional on Rodgers delivering the sort of success he did during his first spell at the club.

Domestically, at least, he cannot match that now, having lost his first match in a domestic cup competition while Celtic manager. Hardly a sackable offence, but any assessment of the job Rodgers is doing will always have to be couched in the brittle terms that caveat him being welcomed back into the Celtic fold.

You sense that it might take less for many within the Celtic support to turn on Rodgers than it might with another manager sans his colourful history with the club. Lose the Old Firm derby at Ibrox in a couple of weeks, and it will be interesting to see how the Celtic fans react. Supporter patience, you feel, is a commodity even scarcer for Rodgers than the precious one it is for any Old Firm manager.

Of course, win that game, and the spotlight will swing right back across the city onto Beale once more. It hasn’t shifted because of anything his Rangers side have done, after all, but simply because Celtic have lost a game.

There is much more on the line then for both Beale and Rodgers on September 3rd than just three Premiership points. We now have a situation, you sense, where a defeat might be enough for either fanbase to turn.