Mark Warburton has admitted he does not understand the poisonous atmosphere that invariably exists when Aberdeen meet Rangers as the sides prepare to resume hostilities at Pittodrie tomorrow after a four-year absence.
He believes his players will cope with the game because it is a fixture such as this that lured the majority of his squad to Ibrox in the first place.
Warburton is bemused why such hatred should exist even though he has taken counsel on the subject and feels it is a sad state of affairs.
He said: “I’ve heard about the warmth of reception etc, and the rivalry between the clubs.
“I don’t really understand it and I haven’t asked the question why.
“I don’t really understand where the bitterness comes from. It is bemusing a little bit.
“I keep hearing about the hatred, the pure hatred, the pure bitterness. It’s football we’re talking about. Someone said to me that it was because Graeme Souness took over and somebody else said it was the Ian Durrant tackle and all these different things.
“It does seem quite sad that it should be at this state.”
Rangers have had their ticket allocation nearly halved to just 2,000 and so will be considerably outnumbered resulting in a partisan experience for the Rangers players.
Warburton, however, who could bring back Josh Windass, Jason Holt, Phillipe Senderos and Rob Kiernan, believes they will handle it. He said: “They are professionals. It would be poor of me to say we’re not ready for that. You can’t turn around and say that they are all experienced because many won’t have experienced it.
“But, at the same time, they are all professional footballers and they came to Rangers to play in these games.
“Where would you rather be? Playing in front of 3-4000 in League One or at a packed Pittodrie live on TV? Go out and enjoy the atmosphere, recognise, respect the opponent.
“I think our boys now realise that most places they go to they will get the same warmth of reception. I understand we have less tickets – 2,000 compared to 3,500 – but we’ll still go and enjoy it.”
Warburton chose not to talk too much about the fact that his team will face Celtic next month in the semi-final of the Betfred Cup.
He said: “We wanted to be in the draw, so whoever you get, Aberdeen, Morton or Celtic, it’s a semi-final at Hampden and we’ll fill out the Rangers end, that’s for sure.”
The match will be at played at the National Stadium on Sunday 23 October with a 2.15pm kick-off. Aberdeen’s semi against Morton will also be at Hampden, on Saturday 22 October at 12.15pm. Both games are live on BT Sport.