SCOTTISH football could really do without a repeat of the seismic events of 2012 and “Armageddon” but it may take something of that magnitude if the landscape is to ever truly change again.

Rangers going into administration and then liquidation, before re-emerging as a weakened force in the bottom tier, served to break the long-standing Old Firm duopoly that had dominated the game since the mid-1980s.

Five different clubs won the Scottish Cup over the next five seasons, including maiden triumphs for Inverness Caledonian Thistle and St Johnstone. It was the same in the League Cup, with a different champion each season for five years. Kilmarnock, St Mirren and Ross County all lifted the trophy for the first time in their respective histories.

Celtic continued to chalk up league title after league title but curiously seemed to find their powers weakened by the downfall of their Glasgow nemesis. Neither in the last two years of Neil Lennon’s reign nor in the two-year tenure of Ronny Deila could they complete a domestic treble, despite Rangers’ absence leaving them in the undoubted position as the most powerful club in the land.

With Hearts and Hibs also dropping down to the lower leagues, there was an openness about the cup competitions that hadn’t been experienced for decades. Fans of the smaller clubs – relatively speaking – viewed the start of each tournament with optimism.

Not any more, however. Brendan Rodgers’ arrival in 2016 changed all that, as Celtic once again flexed their financial muscle and simply swept everyone else out of sight. A treble was completed without losing a single game. And then another treble. And now, this afternoon, the chance to win a third successive League Cup and with it another step closer to a treble-treble.

And after that, it then becomes a matter of just how many trophies and trebles they can go on to stockpile until the day comes when either Dermot Desmond or Rodgers get bored and call it a day, or Rangers and Dave King finally get their financial act together to piece together a serious challenge.

Celtic’s consistency has been a thing to behold. It is one thing to preside over the biggest riches and the best players, but another to never have an off day when it matters. When it looked as if Aberdeen might dissipate the dream of an “invincible treble” in Rodgers’ first season, Celtic dug deep to somehow fashion a last-minute winning goal in the Scottish Cup final. They have barely taken their foot off the pedal since.

An Aberdeen victory this afternoon, then, would have significant repercussions for the whole of the game. A first Scottish trophy winner other than Celtic since Hibs’ Scottish Cup triumph in 2016, and a sign to others that perhaps Rodgers’ men have weak spots after all. Odds, though, of 4/1 on Aberdeen to lift the trophy (and a massive 7/1 to win in 90 minutes) show the bookmakers think that hugely unlikely.

And while only the churlish could deny Celtic deserve that success should they again prosper at Hampden, it would not be a great look for Scottish football if only one team are capable of ever winning anything. Not that that is either Celtic’s fault or problem.

The undercard to the main event takes place at Tynecastle a few hours earlier. Few Hearts fans would surely have believed they were genuine title contenders following their strong start to the season. And those who did get their hopes up will have been brought crashing back down to earth with a bump. The sort of injury list usually seen only in an episode of Casualty has done for Craig Levein’s side in recent weeks. While Celtic have a squad big enough to replace like for like in most positions in those circumstances, most of their rivals simply cannot afford that luxury.

Rangers will go top of the table with a win but, again, there won’t be too many of their followers expecting them to still be there come May. Steven Gerrard has been a measured and impressive addition to the Scottish game, and many of his signings have bedded in well, but they still have some way to go before they can be considered the equals of Celtic who will likely motor away in the second half of the season to what would be an eighth successive championship.

Celtic have strangled the notion of competition in recent seasons. It is as impressive on their part as it is disheartening for the rest.

IT is shaping up to be a significant day south of the Border, too. Three Premier League derbies scattered across an afternoon’s entertainment ought to deliver significant signs on whether Manchester City are likely to face a sustained threat to their domestic superiority this season.

Liverpool would seem best placed to stay the pace but face an Everton squad manager Jurgen Klopp has described, perhaps diplomatically, as the best he has faced. Liverpool are undefeated in the league this season but this could well be the sort of fraught, tense contest to truly test their mettle.

Arsenal, a side reinvigorated under Unai Emery, know a win in the North London derby will take them above Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference, while Chelsea will look to bolster their own slim title aspirations by overcoming Fulham at home. But it looks like Liverpool might be the ones to stop City running away with it again.