Derek McInnes is hopeful his Kilmarnock side can get a better crack against both Rangers and Celtic this season.

Last term, in Killie’s first campaign back in the top flight, the Old Firm were the only teams McInnes’ side failed to take points from. 

Rangers come to town tomorrow evening for their Premiership opener. The game kicks off at 5.15pm and will be broadcasted live on Sky Sports.

The last time Michael Beale and his players visited, they ran out 3-2 winners. Although the scoreline was tight, it was a fairly comfortable evening in the end for the Light Blues after Danny Armstrong’s red card.

Both Killie and Rangers have new look squad’s heading into the 2023/24 season. And McInnes is confident his team will be better equipped for the challenge of facing one of Glasgow’s big two.

“We beat every team in the Premier League last season, except for Rangers and Celtic,” he said. “It shows we’re capable on the day against other teams. Of course, we'd like to win more - and we’ve still got to prove to ourselves that we’ve got a performance in us that means we can have a better wrestle with Rangers and Celtic. 

“We lost 3-2 here to Rangers in a game when we were well in it, even when Danny got sent off. We gave ourselves a chance. Other than that, and the League Cup against Celtic, we never really gave any kind of real indication we were going to win the game. 

“It is a test for us. You have to do so much right. I anticipate a tough game on Saturday. Similar to ourselves, Michael has brought a lot of players in. A lot of players will be playing in Scottish football for the first time. 

“I’ve used the last few days to get a better handle on the new signings. A lot of them were unfamiliar to me and my staff so we’ve tried to get a better handle on them. 

“Obviously there has been a slight change in formation. There is certainly more emphasis on attack, I think, in terms of options in the forward areas. I think they’ve also brought a bit of physicality to their team. The players signed all look like they can deal with the rigours of Scottish football. 

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“There are similarities in terms of the numbers of signings and still trying to really know our players. 

“But what we can say for certain is that it will be a brilliant atmosphere. It will be blood and thunder at times – Scottish football, the first game of the season. We need to make it that way.  

“As I said, we need to show the assurance, the confidence and the personality to deal with the game. Hopefully, we can give a better account of ourselves against the Old Firm this season.”

Killie have another difficult start this August, much like they did last year. They will face both of the Old Firm in the opening weeks, although the game against Celtic is a League Cup tie.

Nobody expects Killie to get a positive result against Rangers. But if they were to cause an upset, it could give them some real momentum in the early stages of the campaign.

McInnes added: “I think you can take a lot of confidence from a winning performance or a strong performance against the Old Firm. You’re never going to be able to bridge the gap financially. But over 90-plus minutes you’ve got to demonstrate an ability to make it as challenging for them as possible. 

“At the same time, you’ve got to take part in the game. Getting the balance right between attack and defending is always crucial. 

“They will dominate the ball but we’re at home and it’s important our supporters try and see a different Kilmarnock against them this season. We’ve brought a host of players in. I feel we’ve got a bit more experience, even though a lot of lads are playing in Scottish football for the first time. 

“I still think there is a level of player and experience that can hopefully deal with these games better.  We had a lot of young loans last season that were maybe a wee bit green – for want of a better word – for going into these fixtures in the early part of the season. 

“We had a tough start last season. This season, we’ve got Rangers, Hearts, Celtic, Motherwell away. So it’s a challenging start. 

“But I’m hoping we can come through these games. And if you can get positive results in fixtures like this, it sets you up nicely in terms of confidence.”