It will be an introduction unlike any other.

Goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas, Celtic’s Greek internationalist, will make his bow against Rangers without the usual cacophony that is the backdrop to this particular encounter. If there is something missing without the frenzied noise that is the hallmark of a Celtic Park whenever they welcome Rangers, it can be a blessing according to one former Celtic goalkeeper.

“My debut against Rangers was a 5-1 defeat so I hope he does better than I did,” said Rab Douglas drily. “I have had clean sheets against Rangers and did alright and then I had the other side of the coin and when you make a mistake in a game of that magnitude, it is a lonely place to be.

“I am just back playing League Cup games now with Arbroath and even at that you feel the flatness of playing without fans. But I think that if this was your introduction to the fixture that it might actually benefit you.”

With both Celtic and Rangers unbeaten going into the game – a point separates them at the top with Celtic holding the advantage of a game in hand – there is intrigue as to how the meeting will play out.

For all that there has been a suggestion Celtic have been a difficult watch in recent weeks as they have ground results out, Neil Lennon was quick to point out last week that his team have also kept four clean sheets in recent encounters.

The Parkhead backline have felt the weight of Shane Duffy’s presence as the Irishman has settled into the team and supplemented the defensive elements, an addition that will have helped Barkas. And for all that there will be no energy to feed off of within the ground, Douglas expects that like any other game of note, the goalkeeper will want to get a handle on things as quickly as he can.

“He’ll want a good early touch and it will be a test for him,” said the former Scotland internationalist. “They’ll miss the buzz of the crowd but it is on national TV and the country is watching. Barkas is an experienced internationalist and he’ll know and understand what the fixture means.

“I am sure there will also be a few experienced heads in the dressing room who will keep him right on that front too.”

There has been a narrative that points to a resurgent Rangers team going into the game with momentum at their back while Celtic haven’t yet hit full form. Time was when people would suggest that the form book went out of the window for this particular meeting; it doesn’t. More often than not it is the form team who claim the spoils and, interestingly, there is also a pattern whereby whoever claims the points in the opening meeting of the season goes on to win the league.

Celtic and Rangers have claimed every Scottish league title on offer since 1985; of the last 35 years there have been only five recoveries where the team who lose the opening derby of the season have then steadied to go on and win the title.

In short, the outcome of Saturday’s game is a portent of what to expect in a season when Celtic’s pressures all stem from the drive to win a tenth successive championship.

“I would love it if Neil went on to write himself into the realms of history by delivering the tenth title,” said Douglas. “He deserves it. I don’t know that he always gets the credit that he deserves as Celtic manager.

“Some of the things I have read over the last few months have been staggering, to be honest. It certainly hasn’t been all that bad for a crisis, has it?”

The interruption to last season mid-March came on the cusp of Rangers hosting Celtic at Ibrox. As such, this weekend’s game is the first meeting of the teams since Steven Gerrard got one particular monkey off of Rangers’ back last December when the Ibrox side won at Celtic Park for the first time in almost a decade.

If there was some naivety in the immediate aftermath as Gerrard celebrated that win in front of the TV cameras, Douglas believes it is not the only sign of inexperience.

“It is never about one game or one fixture,” he said. “Of course they are important but Celtic have been dominant for so long because they are ruthless, they are relentless and they are consistent. It is about sustaining it over the course of a whole season, it is about having the desire to keep winning and keep getting over the line even when you are on your knees sometimes.

“I can’t see past Celtic for this one. I know that others feel differently but I think they have players who understand the fixture and know how to play it and over the piece I think they are the better side.

“There is no need for an incentive in this game but the fact that Celtic go top of the league and with a game in hand still to play puts them in a cracking position.”