Ally McCoist says Celtic have missed Rangers and the return of the league fixture between the sides this weekend is something to be cherished.
The Glasgow giants have not met in the league for four years following Rangers’ descent into administration and then liquidation.
The Ibrox club were forced to start again the bottom tier and in their absence Celtic won four successive titles to add to the one they clinched in 2012.
McCoist, who was Rangers manager during the dark days of financial catastrophe claimed only “dafties” who claim that his former club has not been missed.
“Of course Celtic have missed Rangers,” McCoist said. “Everybody has missed Rangers, and Rangers have missed everybody. It would be absolute nonsense for anyone to say otherwise. It’s only the dafties who tell you it’s great the other way.
“Celtic have missed Rangers as have Aberdeen, Hearts and the other teams. At the same time, Rangers have missed them all equally if not more.
“I’m looking forward to Rangers going back to Pittodrie, that’s a game we’ve missed. Celtic going to Tynecastle is another great fixture. So we need Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts all in our top flight if we are to make serious progression as a nation.”
McCoist believes his former side will be underdogs at the weekend.
“Rangers are definitely the second favourites to go to Celtic Park and win on Saturday,” he said. “But they were heavy second favourites to win the Scottish Cup semi-final last season and I thought they played particularly well in that Old Firm game.
“Celtic had chances to score but I thought Rangers were the better team. It will take another performance of that magnitude for Rangers to get something out of the game this weekend.
“Celtic will have the majority of the support and they will still have the memory of the semi-final at the back of their minds. They will want to put one over on Rangers for that and it will all come down to how Rangers handle it.
“Rangers will need to show a lot of mettle in their possession of the ball. It will have to be at its best on Saturday, if they have any chance of keeping the gas of the Celtic fans at a peep for a little bit. It is a big, big game for both teams but having it at Celtic Park puts a little bit more pressure on Rangers.”