Celtic losing Fraser Forster – and empty stands – could help Rangers prevent Neil Lennon’s side completing 10 in a row, suggests Neil McCann.
The former Rangers winger thinks the goalkeeper, who was on loan from Southampton, won many points for the reigning champions last season.
And he thinks Rangers failed to handle the pressure created by their own fans.
“It’s the omission of Forster from that starting line-up that I think is absolutely huge,” McCann said.
“I look at the Rangers squad and it is virtually unchanged – not a lot of changes other than one or two additions.”
Veteran Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon has also decided to move on from the champions, while McCann wonders if centre-half Kristoffer Ajer and striker Odsonne Edouard will remain with Celtic amid transfer speculation.
The Covid-19 pandemic means the season will start without any fans in the stands.
“Rangers are every bit as good as Celtic on their day and they have proved it,” McCann told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound.
“They have to find the longevity and stamina for a season and deal with the pressure, but I think the fans can create a lot of pressure and, if the fans are not there, it could help Rangers.”
Former Aberdeen player and manager Willie Miller does not think that Rangers can deal with that weight of expectation and hand Steven Gerrard his first league title as a manager.
“I don’t think he’s done enough to prove or put in my mind that Rangers are going to be good enough to overcome Celtic this season,” he said.
Miller points out that Celtic have the pressure of trying to “surpass any other team” in Scotland in terms of league titles while for Rangers it is a case of “desperation” to stop them.
“I think Rangers are as good as Celtic on the day, but the last two seasons they’ve proven to me there’s something missing – that winning mentality,” he said.
Former Scotland forward James McFadden also thinks Celtic’s winning habit will prove crucial, especially as they will be more refreshed this season because there is not an early start to their European campaign.
He points out that, when Celtic denied Rangers 10 in a row in 1998, “you felt it was an end of an era” because manager Walter Smith was stepping down while influential winger Brian Laudrup was leaving.
“This Celtic side have got a lot of good strong young players who are hungry to go out and make history,” McFadden added.