Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has allowed himself to indulge a vision of what delivering a title at Ibrox would mean. The 39-year-old, however, is not so caught up in the end game that he cannot see what is in front of him.

If the big picture is all about lifting a championship trophy for the first time since Rangers went into liquidation in 2012, the minutiae of achieving that has been a steady focus for the last 18 months. Fostering consistency week-in, week-out has been one thing – and that has been particularly notable this term – but winning at Celtic Park might be quite another.

“I've thought about winning the title here from the moment I was offered the job at certain times,” said Gerrard. “But I don't think about it every minute of every day. I try just to focus game to game. If you're in a title race just before or during the split then it would dominate my thoughts. But at the moment the only thing doing that is our next game and the next challenge we face.

“If we ever come across that day at Rangers and we become champions, there won't be a happier person in this city than me, let me tell you.”

It is difficult to view this afternoon’s game at Celtic Park as anything other than season-defining. Celtic have not lost a meaningful league game on their own turf since Ronny Deila’s tenure while the Parkhead side have rarely fallen short domestically when the pressure has been on, as their 10 successive trophies prove.

Neil Lennon will also have French striker Odsonne Edouard to lead the line. The significance of that can be seen through the games he has missed against Rangers when Celtic have toiled without a player who has the required physicality to exert considerable influence on the game by holding the ball up and bringing others into play. In addition, there is the incentive of an eight-point gap at the top to take into the winter break with a win, albeit that Rangers still have a game in hand.

Regardless of how today’s encounter might play out, however, Gerrard believes there is enough about Rangers this season to suggest they can push Celtic all the way to the finish line. Certainly, the stats offer credence to that theory; of the 105 points that have been up for grabs season between the two teams, 96 have been yielded from teams outwith one another. It has given new weight and focus this season to the encounters between the teams.

The reality is that few would expect Rangers to have the wherewithal to match Celtic over the course of the season. If the Parkhead side get the bit between their teeth this afternoon the anticipation is that the life will be snuffed out of Rangers’ title ambitions. Gerrard, though, maintains it is unfair to judge his side over the course of 90 minutes rather than what they have achieved so far this season.

"I'm the manager of Rangers and I see the players every day,” he said. “We've been playing non-stop football since the middle of July, so that's a better gauge to see if my players have progressed rather than going on one result or the outcome of one game.

"I don't have to wait for a result on Sunday to know that. To qualify for the last 32 in Europe, reach a major cup final and play as we did and the consistency we've shown so far in the league, I already know there's been huge progress. I won't gauge how far we've come as a team on 90 minutes.

“There's always more weight to this game because it's an Old Firm, there's a big rivalry and because of where we both are in the table. I can't play this down and say it's just three points.

“All said and done it is, because you don't get anything extra for winning it. But the way the pattern of the season has gone, compared to last year, it's different in terms of the consistency of both teams. So maybe the outcome of this game could have a psychological effect on the teams. That's why I can't play it down.”

Given the way both clubs have slashed the ticket allocation for the visiting support, home advantage has taken on extra meaning. The home team in this fixture now play in front of a near-on exclusive support while the visitors have a particularly hostile environment to negotiate. Still, Gerrard revealed that he preferred winning at Goodison against Everton than he did at Anfield with the chance to silence his detractors particularly enjoyable. He has yet to experience whether that would transfer as a wining manager in the away dug-out at Celtic Park.

"I was hated there [at Goodison], abused there,” he said. “It felt different winning there. At Anfield, we never knew we were going to win but we were expected to, so the win didn't feel as big. Going to Goodison and outplaying Everton in front of their crowd and atmosphere and then to enjoy it with your supporters was more special. We had a group of players that had, excuse me, balls, character and it didn't really matter the environment or the occasion, we backed ourselves.

"I suppose it would feel very similar [winning at Celtic Park], but I would like my players to have that attitude because it would be fantastic for them. Our performance in the cup final should give players the belief and confidence that we can more than match them and believe in ourselves we can go there and win.”