PREDICTIONS the balance of power in Scottish football was poised to shift from the East End of Glasgow to the South Side after Rangers’ one-sided win over Celtic at Ibrox back in January proved wildly inaccurate.

Brendan Rodgers’ men - who had been without Kieran Tierney at left back, fielded an unusual line-up and performed way below their best - regrouped during the winter break and went on to win their eighth consecutive Scottish title by a comfortable margin.

The victory that Steven Gerrard’s charges eased to in Govan yesterday afternoon, though, feels like a far more significant result which will have far greater implications going forward despite more mitigating circumstances.

Yes, the Parkhead club were without James Forrest and Tierney, two of their star performers, once again due to injury. Yes, Mikael Lustig, their hugely experienced right back, limped off with a hamstring injury just before half-time. And, yes, the result was meaningless as the visitors had wrapped up the league eight days earlier.

This was, too, the fourth Old Firm fixture where the away team had just 800 fans inside the ground and it was the fourth occasion the home team had triumphed. Not having a sizeable support cheering them on has definitely been a huge factor in the outcome of each of the derby matches.

Yet, the Rangers’ display was so dominant they can only take confidence from it and the Celtic showing so poor they can only be concerned.

When Wes Foderingham, who was deputising for the suspended Allan McGregor in goals, denied Oliver Burke with six minutes of regulation time it was the first and ultimately only occasion he was tested.

They will, regardless of who is appointed Celtic manager and irrespective of what signings the defending champions make in the summer, go in to the 2019/20 campaign with genuine belief they can end their opponents’ unprecedented spell of dominance after this.

Gerrard bemoaned the lack of quality at his disposal in the wake of the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final replay to defeat to Aberdeen back in March. Reinforcements will arrive in the weeks ahead.

But in Steven Davis, his fellow midfielder Glen Kamara and striker Jermain Defoe, players who were added to his squad during the January transfer window and have taken time to settle, he has three outstanding individuals who he can build his side around.

Defoe made the most of the limited service he received – he tested Scott Bain with a long-range attempt in the first-half and forced a fine save from the Celtic goalkeeper in the second – and also helped to set up the second goal with a cheeky dummy before being replaced by Alfredo Morelos.

However, Davis and Kamara were exceptional in the three man midfield alongside Ryan Jack. Their opponents, who are no slouches in that department themselves, were given no time to settle on the ball from kick-off to the final whistle and were unable to gain a foothold in the game as a consequence.

Neil Lennon’s men were ultimately undone by two appalling defensive lapses. Bain failed to deal with a James Tavernier free-kick in just the second minute and conceded a criminally soft goal. Kristoffer Ajer, too, really should have intercepted a Kamara through ball before Scott Arfield netted in the second-half.

Lennon felt that referee Kevin Clancy should have red carded Rangers left back Jon Flanagan for elbowing Celtic midfielder Scott Brown in the face as Callum McGregor prepared to take a corner in the second-half. The match official only showed the offending player a yellow. But neither he nor his captain used that as an excuse for their performance or the loss. They would have been clutching at straws if they had.

This was also further evidence that Gerrard is maturing as a manager. He was right to be proud of an impressive all-round display. His defence, for whom Nikola Katic once again shone, were rock solid. They won the battle in the middle of the park hands down. They could perhaps have created more in the final third. But it was hard to be critical.

This defeat, even though it was his first since taking over from Rodgers on an interim basis back in February, will do nothing to help Lennon in his quest to land the Celtic manager’s job on a full-time basis. Victory in these matches is as important, if not more so, than lifting trophies. There are sure to be calls for another head coach to be brought in.

The Northern Irishman started, with good reason given that he was without Tierney, with what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation and switched to a 4-2-3-1 during the match. There may well have been a 4-4-2 in there as well. It was hard to tell. It was a disjointed and insipid performance from the triple treble chasers. None of the formations was effective.

He missed Forrest and Tierney badly. But in Burke, the West Brom loanee, he had a winger who has commanded transfer fees totalling £28 million in his career to date. He should have been a more than adequate replacement.

Lennon will attempt to make amends for the reverse in the final league game of the season against Hearts at Celtic Park on Sunday, after which Brown will be presented with the Premiership trophy, and the Scottish Cup final against the capital club at Hampden six days later, in which his team can become the first in Scottish football history to complete a clean sweep of domestic honours.

But it looks as if bigger challenges lie ahead for them next season.