John Kennedy wants Celtic to remind Rangers they have not gone away when they take on the new champions at Parkhead on Sunday.
Steven Gerrard’s side recently clinched the Ibrox club’s 55th Scottish Premiership title and in doing so scuppered Hoops hopes of making it a record-breaking 10 in a row.
Interim boss Kennedy, who stepped up from assistant when Neil Lennon resigned last month, is keen for Celtic to put down a marker against their Old Firm rivals, whom they trail by 20 points in second place.
He told Celtic TV: “It is very important to everyone, the fans, the club, the players themselves. Everyone knows what it means.
“It is not, because the league is done, a nothing game, it is a game in its own right, it is a derby match and one in which we want to put things right.
“We know we have underachieved in recent (derby) games, especially the last game (a 1-0 defeat at Ibrox), where we thought it was a good performance and then we went down to 10 men and lost the game.
“But that gives us confidence that we can impose our style and win the game which is the most important thing because, again, we might have lost the league title, but we are certainly not away, we are still striving to get back to being the best team in the country.”
Kennedy believes a win would lift the spirits of Celtic fans who have been unable to attend games all season due to coronavirus restrictions.
The former Celtic defender, however, stressed the need for supporters to stay at home and stay safe before during and after the match.
He said: “It is a tough season for everyone, especially our fans who have had great success over the seasons.
“We obviously went into the season with high hopes and we have not quite reached that level.
“So that has been disappointing for everyone, ourselves included, but obviously the fans are the ones who have not been allowed to attend the games and support the team the way they want, which I imagine has been very difficult.
“We certainly have missed having them behind us. It has been really tough, but I imagine it would have been even tougher for them sitting at home having to watch it on a TV screen rather than in the stadium.
“We encourage everyone to enjoy the match at home, very much support the team as best you can with family and friends and stay at home. We will miss you but hopefully we can get a big result for you.”
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