WELL, so much for all that wishful thinking about Kilmarnock being able to challenge Celtic for the Premiership title. Some people asked seriously if they could do a ‘Leicester’ and win the league, but the fact is that Leicester City had huge resources and could afford fine players as well as a terrific manager, who all came together for success.

I am a huge admirer of Stevie Clarke and he has Killie playing good football in a well-organised set-up that blends youth and experience, but the Rugby Park men were only top of the league on sufferance for one blindingly obvious reason – Celtic have two games in hand over them, while Rangers have one, so the likelihood was that Kilmarnock’s stay at the top was always going to be short-lived, and so it proved, though I and many pundits thought they would give Celtic more of a game at Parkhead on Saturday.

The real problem for Killie and every other team in Scotland is the fact that Celtic were able to make seven changes to their team on Saturday and did not look any the worse for it. Brendan Rodgers will soon be spoiled for choice, given that club captain Scott Brown is not yet back to full fitness and Kieran Tierney and Dedryck Boyata were both injured. That Emilio Izaguirre slotted in at left-back and looked like he’d never been away was a big bonus.

Stevie Clarke summed up the situation with his usual honesty: “They had seven fresh players all rested during the week and good to go and I’m flogging my back four. Now we can give them a rest and get ready to go again.”

Rangers, too, have the luxury of being able to make changes, though they will want fewer enforced changes caused by indiscipline. They made six for yesterday’s match against Dundee and that’s why the Ibrox side is the only team that can really challenge Celtic this or any other season in the foreseeable future.

I sincerely hope Clarke can get his side up and running again, and I happily predict that on the basis of what we have seen so far this season, Killie can qualify for European football next season.

There is one devastating statistic that proves that the Old Firm should always be streets ahead in domestic football. Thanks to Transfermarkt, we know that since the start of the season, Celtic’s attendance figure at Parkhead has averaged more than 56,000, with Rangers having the next best attendance figure at 48,000.

Hearts with 16,609 and Hibs with 14,844 – these figures produced in midweek – were the only other Premiership teams with five-figure averages before Saturday when the 13,304 spectators at Pittodrie enabled Aberdeen to squeak above the 10,000 average attendance mark for league games.

Given that only Aberdeen have plans for a new stadium that should boost its average attendance, the statistics I’ve just quoted are unlikely to change drastically, and since home attendances correlate directly with club’s income, the Old Firm are going to stay way ahead.

If Rangers are to catch Celtic they must look to increase their home attendances and with an extraordinary 97.2% of the stadium filled for home league games this season, that means adding seats inside Ibrox Stadium, which is now 40 years old and could do with a facelift. There have been plans over the years – I recall one that mentioned lowering the pitch to allow more tiers of seating – but I have always thought that a simpler solution would be to fill in the gaps between the stands. That will cost a lot of money, but it is the only long-term way to bridge the gap to Celtic, as Sir David Murray realised many years ago.

I am well aware that in those five decades, other teams have won the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup, and I’m pretty sure that Celtic’s current run of seven domestic trophies in a row will end in a cup defeat somewhere down the line. It is a no-brainer, however, that the huge disparity in home attendances should mean that Celtic and Rangers always dominate Scottish football, and apart from the 1980s when Aberdeen and Dundee United were champions, they have done so for more than 50 years. So are Celtic and Rangers too big for Scottish football? Of course they are, which is why success in Europe is the true measure of achievement by the big two. Should they leave for England? Of course not, and I am glad that sort of talk has all but finished.

The SFA’s articles – to which Celtic and Rangers subscribe – forbid it absolutely, and so do the English FA, while FIFA and UEFA will never permit it. The other Scottish clubs need to be inventive and creative to find solutions to Old Firm dominance, and that’s the real worry – they’ve no idea.