November 11th 2011, and Rangers were 12 points clear of Celtic. Ibrox Noise was regaling our readers with the problem of replacing the recently-injured Steven Naismith, given only four points had been dropped all season prior to his injury.
Once he did his cruciate, Celtic strolled to the title winning every match straight from 19th of November to 3rd of March while Rangers immediately crumbled dreadfully.
In short, the loss of one key man saw a huge gulf overturned with surprising ease by Celtic.
Celtic have now lost Brendan Rodgers, their talismanic manager, while there are still 11 matches left of the season including two Old Firms – and have replaced him with an interim manager in Neil Lennon.
Meanwhile Rangers have a bit of a head of steam having rolled over Killie and Hamilton, while only having lost once this calendar year – we can’t say the situations are completely identical, but we can certainly point to history to show how an utterly imperious team can be stunningly derailed by the loss of one man, handing the title to their rivals.
Yes, Rangers’ financial issues were well-documented too, with the Lloyds nonsense in the background, but that wasn’t affecting the players on the pitch – until Whyte called in the administrators, nothing non-football was affecting anything on the pitch – no, it was the loss of Naismith which saw the results absolutely swan dive into oblivion:
From his injury onwards, Rangers won only four of the next eight games, losing three, having not lost any till then.
And now, Celtic find themselves losing a huge part of their team at a crucial time of the season.
We’re not saying ‘wur defintly gonna win ra league’ – far from it, but we are saying there is an unexpected opportunity here and a clear precedent.
How this pans out over the next couple of weeks could truly define who wins the league.
We shall watch with interest.