Speaking in an interview with podcast Tutto Balutto, Celtic defender Mikael Lustig has claimed Rangers are now nowhere near the level of the Hoops and, as a result, the intensity of the derby between the two clubs has dipped.
Having been at Celtic since the 2011/12 season, Lustig has seen almost everything there is to see in Scottish football and that includes the fierce rivalry between the two Glasgow giants.
In his time at the club, the Hoops have dominated Scottish football and after Rangers’ promotion to the Scottish Premiership last season, many thought that would be challenged.
However, Celtic have looked as dominant as ever under Brendan Rodgers, winning all but one of the derbies, failing to lose a single one, on their way to an unbeaten domestic treble. There have even been a couple of 5-1 hammerings.
As a result, Lustig reckons the rivalry is not what it once was.
I don’t think it’s the same hype, the same kind of hatred that you had back in the day. Rangers are nowhere near us now. I imagine the tighter it is, the more important it gets to win the derbies. We’ve won everything during my time here.
Lustig may be correct to assert it isn’t quite the same as in years gone by, but does the derby still have an edge to it that makes the fixture worthy of the buzz it generates in Scottish football?
It’s a reasonable opinion to have that, in 2017, the derby isn’t quite what it once was when the two teams went toe-to-toe to determine who the big dogs in Scottish football were. Right now, the results seem rather inevitable given the high Celtic are on under Brendan Rodgers.
However, there’s still a significant edge to the fixture, beyond every other match in Scottish football.
When the derby comes around, it still takes over the hearts and minds of fans on both sides of the divide, sometimes for days and weeks before kick-off.
When the whistle is blown and the two teams face each other next time on December 30th, the passion of the derby cauldron will have a ferocity greater than most things in modern football, and that’s what makes it a must-watch encounter.