The idea that any game between Celtic and Rangers is meaningless is a nonsense. But tomorrow’s meeting at Hampden carries enough weight to make a Clydesdale buckle at the knees.

Not since 2011 have Glasgow’s two come up against one another in a final, the same year when Rangers last won a major trophy and 12 months before the financial meltdown that saw the club liquidated.

Success, then, took on a new name at Ibrox, like the Petrofac Training Cup. Like celebrating The Journey.

All the while Celtic sallied forth, gloriously revelling in the humiliation of their rivals’ status being demoted to that of the poor relations.

For Rangers, tomorrow sets the stage for the first chance of exacting some revenge for the endurance test that those “banter years” provided.

That there has been so little between the teams in the league this season has encouraged a suggestion that the chasm between the clubs has been significantly diminished. This then, is the first real examination of that theory.

But the idea that Neil Lennon is under more pressure than Steven Gerrard going to Hampden is absurd. Celtic go into the game on the back of a 30-game-winning cup run. All questions asked of the Parkhead side have been swatted aside. Three successive treble campaigns have rendered Celtic untouchable in a domestic sense and success at Hampden would give them an historic 10th trophy on the trot. It is a run that is unlikely to be beaten.

There is evidence to back up an argument that such a diet creates a sense of entitlement, particularly among a younger element for whom Celtic’s own banter years of Wayne Biggins and dancing in the streets of Raith entirely passed them by

One can assume with a certain degree of confidence that defeat for Lennon’s side would bring rancour and recrimination, pointed fingers and toys out of the pram.

It is a run that has to end some time. But whether it does on Sunday or not, there is applause and celebration to be had in its longevity. Just as when Brendan Rodgers gathered his players into a circle at Tynecastle when Hearts put them to the sword and burst the Invincibles bubble, there is something to be recognised in the achievement.

Defeat would be a blot on Lennon’s tenure. It might see a return of the criticism from his own support that came his way when he was given the job on a permanent basis at Hampden in May. But it would be just that – a blot for a manager who can already sit back and prepare for the latter stages of the Europa League in February having made his own bit of history getting there.

But where does defeat leave Gerrard and Rangers?

This week has the potential to see Rangers lose a cup final, go out of Europe and fall behind in the title race. It’s a worst-case scenario but it’s why tomorrow’s game needs to deliver a result for Gerrard a lot more than it does for Lennon.

If the gap has narrowed then the only tangible evidence of that will lie in a counting of silverware.

And if it doesn’t come now then where to next?

Neither side conducted themselves with any great authority in their midweek encounters but psychologically it is Celtic who gained an edge. That last-minute goal immediately after conceding, that two-point gap, that relentless flexing of muscle augers well going into Hampden.

Rangers were left to rue defensive frailties but perhaps more concerning might be the mentality that allows a 2-0 advantage to be pegged back.

There is much football to be played, but if Rangers are serious about mounting any kind of challenge to Celtic then this is when they have to show it, not with words but with actions.

Since 2011, Rangers have played 64 League Cup and Scottish Cup ties without any of those campaigns concluding with champagne and celebration.

That they are a better team now under Gerrard is irrefutable, but just how good are they?

Only those who pull on the jersey tomorrow afternoon can answer that question.

But the weight of the outcome will hang heavy on Gerrard’s shoulders.

And another thing

It was only 16 months ago that Ryan Christie could be spotted moping quietly around the Firhill boardroom.

Having failed to do enough to get himself into Celtic’s 18-man squad for an early League Cup tie against Partick Thistle, the midfielder would have seemed fairly certain that another move back to Pittodrie, on loan or permanently, was in the best interests of all concerned.

Christie did not only score his 16th goal of the season for Celtic on Wednesday night to become the club’s top goalscorer, but also underlined just how indispensable player he has become for both club and country.

It is a turnaround that has been breathtaking in its speed for the affable Christie.

And in a week in which the focus has been on whether Odsonne Edouard will be fit for the final, there is an argument to suggest that Christie has become particularly pivotal to the aggression Celtic play with.

Still, Edouard’s presence gives the Parkhead side an edge with his physicality and quality on the ball. That he is a player for the big occasion has been borne out repeatedly at his time at Celtic. Even if not fully fit, Lennon would probably be tempted to gamble by putting him into the starting line-up, even to get an hour out of him.