This weekend, the Old Firm fixture was back after an absence of three years. Celtic and Rangers (in their new guise of course) were to lock horns again after the latter had, in true Rodney Trotter style, applied 'plonker-nomics' to the running of a football club and shot themselves in the foot.
That need not be Celtic's concern. It wasn't their fault that their rivals paid less attention to their financial health than Derek Riordan has to own playing career. It wasn't their fault that David Murray allowed the circumstances for a charlatan like Craig Whyte to come in and ruin the Ibrox club. However, it could be argued that the appointment of Martin O'Neill ruined the big plan of Murray to establish Rangers as a major player on the football scene. After all, at the turn of the century, Murray predicted that by the next decade, his club would be playing in a European Superleague.
Cue Celtic to appoint a manager who was actually quite good at this coaching lark and ruined the grand design by winning trophies (not his or Celtic's fault - not their job to make Rangers' quest for silverware easy). Even when Rangers one year bagged a domestic treble he still managed to usurp them by guiding Celtic to within a whisker of landing a European title. Murray's plan was to throw bags of cash at the problem and play fast and loose with a tax scheme that caught the unwelcome attention of the taxman himself. We all know what happened next with Rangers paying the ultimate price for their recklessness.
Then this season's League Cup semi-final draw brought the two together again. Cue an outpouring of hyperbole that would even give a vomiting virus itself nausea. Pundits and ex-players and former managers of the Old Firm were licking their lips and salivating like a komodo dragon who has not been taught any table manners. Up the shouts went - "It's great to have this fixture back", "At last we can resume the derby", which would inevitably be followed by the following bit of comedic nonsense.....
"Scottish football has missed the Old Firm match".
Has it now? Really? If you say so but a lot of people find this hard to believe.... in fact, they've heard this clap-trap before.
Back when Rangers were liquidated and had to reform, attempts were made by the new owner Charles Green and the respective heads of the SFA and SPL, Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster to parachute the new club into the top flight of Scottish football and pretend as if nothing had happened. For once, the rest of the SPL clubs decided to consult their fans who instinctively knew a con when they saw it. Would they be offered the same special treatment if their team went bankrupt? Not a snowball's chance in Hell they would and told their clubs to vote no to this proposal.
Then came plan B - carpetbag the new Rangers into the second tier of Scottish football with the thinking being a year away from the big league will be a token stint in purgatory and they'll come back up in 12 months time. Unfortunately for them, the clubs of the Scottish Football League also caught the unpleasant whiff of a rat and told those at Hampden where they could stick their plan. Again, would any of them get the same deal? No. They had seen other clubs be told to start again at the bottom and were in no mood to give this one preferential treatment.
Cue the self-righteous fury from the pundits, and those at Hampden, predicting "Armageddon" for the Scottish game and that those clubs had written their own suicide note in not giving Rangers a chance to leapfrog over them because of who they were. But had those clubs indeed slashed their own wrists by voting to make them start again from the bottom?
Those smaller clubs (in terms of supporter base) that have seen a dip in their own crowds have only experienced a marginal one. Not a dip that has plummeted those teams to such depths and put them on the brink of being wound-up as many of the scaremongers were predicting back in the summer of 2012. Suicide has not been committed and for some clubs, they are doing just fine with a division or three separating the Old Firm.
Going by what happened in this weekend's League Cup semi-final itself, you would have wondered what all the fuss was about. Those expecting it to be like the old days got a rude awakening as it became apparent that they was a huge gulf in class. People who took a rare rational approach to this game would not have been surprised as after all, playing nearly three years in the lower leagues would not exactly make you battle-hardened for when you would one day meet the country's strongest team. However, the lack of spark, drive and determination that was absent from Rangers was a shock. If they could not get themselves up for this one, despite all the current trouble going on in the Ibrox boardroom, then you would fear for them in a promotion play-off come May. After all, last season, a Morton side that would eventually be relegated from the second tier came to Celtic's own backyard and dumped them out of the League Cup. There was no reason for Rangers not to show the same brave attitude.
Celtic hardly broke out of neutral gear let alone out of sweat. Sure, beating Rangers meant a lot to their fans - it reaffirmed bragging rights until the next time, which could be a while going on current form. However, once the Celtic players realised that what was in front of them would be unable to claw their way out of a paper bag, they decided it more prudent to conserve their energy for sterner tasks ahead both home and abroad against tougher opposition.
Those outside of Scotland who, after being drawn in by the hype, tuned in expecting to see the remake of "Gunfight at the O.K Corral" would have been justifiably disappointed. The propaganda of this being the big comeback of Scotland's top fixture fell flat on it's face. It will probably be years before Rangers can offer Celtic a decent scrap on the pitch and actually be in contention to win a Glasgow derby again so it is wise to look elsewhere in Scottish football for inspiration. If people are not too lazy to look, there is plenty of it beyond Govan and Parkhead.
It is best not to trust marketing folk with promoting the game again and better for yourself to seek out the positives of Scottish football. They promised us Ali v Frazier when all we got was Ali v Richard Dunn. Until they can justify why they are trying to force a particular fixture on you as the be all and end all of the Scottish game, then contempt is the only panacea that will work against such people.