To paraphrase a famous old Scottish saying, you can but wee with the organ bestowed upon you. Words – or a version of them – which have been uttered on countless occasions over the past few months when discussing the job that Philippe Clement has been doing at Rangers.

At first, it was seen as something of a miracle that the Belgian had managed to take the squad bequeathed to him by Michael Beale and not only go on to create a title race with Celtic, but have them looking as though they were going to edge it at one stage.

Alas, this Rangers team once again got the willies, and the mental fragility that has plagued them over the past few years came back to bite them at the worst possible moment. A couple of shockers against Ross County and Dundee later, with yet another defeat at Celtic Park along the way, and suddenly it was Brendan Rodgers who was cock of the walk once again. I’ll drop this theme now. And maybe see a therapist.

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The point is, such is the low opinion many of the Rangers fans have of these players that any success their side achieved over the past few months was credited to the genius of Clement, while blame for their ultimate failure to win the Premiership title was largely laid at the feet of the squad.

You could argue justifiably so. Even though, come Saturday night, it could well be the case that this current group of Rangers players are double winners. The smart money, mind, given that Celtic have won three of the four meetings between the sides this season and the other has been drawn, is against that scenario unfolding.

But, for argument’s sake, it is still a possibility. The only problem is that the one trophy missing from that collection would be the one that should still define what a successful season constitutes for Rangers.

Celtic are the league champions, and while adding the Scottish Cup to the League Cup they won back in December would be a good achievement - and may even paint the legacy of some of those players in a more favourable light - it ultimately should count for little when it comes time for Clement to wield his axe this summer.

If Rangers lose, that cull won’t just be easily sold to the Rangers fanbase, they will actively be thirsting for it. Many of them already are. They’ve had enough of TikToks and Instagram posts celebrating mediocrity, such as the one posted by Todd Cantwell last weekend shushing the Hearts supporters, after a 3-3 draw on the final day of a season in which Rangers failed to win the league.

He is one of those that needs a big performance on Saturday to wheedle his way back into the affections of a Rangers support who were feting him not all that long ago. If he is trusted by Clement to play, that is, having spent the entire must-win match at Celtic Park on the bench.

Finally being able to get one over on Celtic in a game that really matters might prove that players such as Cantwell do have a bit of mettle about them, but the harsh reality is that too many in this current Ibrox squad simply haven’t shown they have enough about them over the piece to bring sustainable success to the club.

In many ways, though, the players have acted as a shield against any criticism of Clement over recent weeks. The Rangers manager may not be in a situation just yet where he needs a big win against Celtic for his own sake, but going into his fourth meeting with his club’s bitter rivals, he has to at least show that he is learning on the job.

That means recognising his own players are indeed, for the most part, going to be of inferior quality to their direct opponent. And that Rangers, as a result, have to make some tactical concessions to dull the influence of the likes of Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley, Daizen Maeda and Kyogo Furuhashi, players who have all caused merry mayhem against them in recent times.

Injuries permitting elsewhere, that means detailing Dujon Sterling to try and stop McGregor running the game, or at the very least, being asked to help stop Maeda tormenting James Tavernier on the Rangers right.

If Rangers lose, the players will take the brunt of the flak once more, and many won’t be seen again. But there has been an unmistakable shift over recent weeks in the level of scrutiny being applied to how Clement is setting them up, particularly against Celtic.

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If he again deploys his favoured 4-2-3-1, and Rangers are once again overrun in the middle of the park, then there may well be a more even distribution of blame this time around between the manager and his players. (I was tempted to refer to Clement as the organ grinder just then, but given the way I started this column, perhaps best not).

It is way too early to be questioning Clement too closely. He has done well over the piece with players assembled under a few different coaches, and it is only when he has his own squad on board that his performance can really be evaluated.

But he is astute enough to know already that Rangers managers are judged on two things above all others – winning the league, and beating Celtic.

To avoid losing a fair chunk of the goodwill he has earned to date, he could well do with ticking off one of those boxes for the first time on Saturday. Or, at the very least, show he has a plan for doing so.