Celtic interim boss John Kennedy insists the chance to end Rangers’ unbeaten league run this season will not be the driving force for his side when the teams meet on Sunday.
With Rangers already confirmed as Premiership champions, and Celtic secure in second place, the third derby of the season doesn’t carry the weight of previous encounters.
For Rangers, the opportunity is there to continue an unbeaten run and take a step closer to an invincible season, equalling the achievement of Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic team.
Asked if ending that possibility was a motivating factor, Kennedy dismissed it and said Celtic’s focus was all internal.
He said: “It is not something we will use as motivation.
“Our motivation will purely be to take the game in isolation, competing against your biggest rivals, and putting a marker down in terms of what we do going forward.
“What has been in the past has happened, Rangers have won the title, we accept that and it is about moving forward and not just accepting that is going to be the norm.
“We have not shown what we are truly capable of this season.
“I have watched the players in training the last few weeks and I am excited to see them at the weekend.
“The motivation is to deliver the results and performance for the group and the fans.”
Kennedy, who confirmed on Friday that Celtic would not welcome Rangers on to the pitch with a guard of honour, said his side had enjoyed a full week of training without a game and that players who were on the way back from injury had taken steps forward.
The coach also gave his thoughts on reports that have linked club captain Scott Brown with a move to Aberdeen.
Brown, out of contract at the end of the season, has been mentioned as a possible player/assitant manager at Pittodrie if Stephen Glass is appointed as Dons boss.
Kennedy, who was forced to retire from playing after serious injury at the age of 26, said that his advice to his captain would be to keep his boots on for as long as possible.
He said: “Having stepped to the other side, it’s terrific. But for me, maximise your playing time.
“He is the captain of a fantastic club like Celtic, he has had such a successful time so I wouldn’t be in too much of a rush to make that step if I am being honest.
“I spoke to him briefly because of the speculation around it. Scott is very committed to here.
“He is aware of the speculation, there is nothing concrete in that and I am sure come the end of the season, whatever Scott decides to do he won’t be short of offers.
“He is very much an important player for us, an important captain and we very much want it to stay that way.
“Even still at his age, the impact he has in the squad on a daily basis on the training pitch and on the games is massive so it is about keeping that.
“Scott is an honest guy, he is in no rush to make any quick decisions.
“I think he is quite calm about what the future holds for him, he want to give his all to the end of the season and evaluate where he is at and obviously us as a club would want him to continue here but he will be the one to make that decision.
“But very much his focus is on this season and nothing else.”