THE answer was the shortest that Connor Goldson gave, but the one word reaffirmed the message.

‘Exactly’ was his response when asked if Rangers need to be more streetwise in the Old Firm encounters as he prepares for his fourth taste of a famous fixture that is as controversial as it is captivating.

Goldson may only have three derby clashes to his name but he has already packed plenty into them in his first season under Steven Gerrard.

His comments after the defeat at Parkhead in September reaffirmed the belief that Gerrard had installed in his side, while his performance at Ibrox helped the Light Blues end their long winless run against Celtic.

When Rangers returned from the East End a few weeks ago, they did so knowing that a famous victory had evaded them, and that they were complicit in their own downfall.

The red card to Alfredo Morelos, the striker throwing an elbow at Scott Brown, cost Gerrard’s side dear. Ryan Kent would also lash out at the Celtic skipper, while Andy Halliday started a post-match melee by taking exception to the celebrations in front of the Gers support.

The opinions on Brown’s actions and behaviour will be wide-ranging and clearly split. Rangers need to learn the lessons, though.

“I don’t know if you can call it frustrating because it’s our own fault,” Goldson said. “It’s our team and it’s our house. We made the mistakes on that day as a team and as a club that we have got to learn from it.

“I just try and play my game. There are obviously times in a game when you get annoyed by yourself or someone or things happen. There might be arguments or tempers flare. It happens every week, but you know not to cross the line or go too far where it puts your team in danger.

“Truthfully, and people won’t like me saying this, but he [Brown] has been very clever.

“People will say why don’t we do it, but, realistically, it’s not right to do. At the same time, he benefitted his team by doing it and, as I said, we were inexperienced.

“We shouldn’t get sucked in by that and, on that day, we did.

“It’s just something we have to lean from and not let it happen again because it hurt us.”

Celtic will arrive at Ibrox with eight-in-a-row already wrapped up, but there is plenty at stake for both sides tomorrow afternoon. It could be a day where scores are settled, where old wounds are reopened.

Goldson isn’t interested in the past, though. He will brush it all aside and only focus on the job in hand.

“There’s always going to be stuff in Old Firm from both teams,” he said.

“Last time, we were inexperienced and we acted as inexperienced. We’re a young team and, in the end, it cost us and you can’t afford to do that. The game is hard enough with 11 men, never mind with 10. That goes for both teams. When you play against good sides, we can’t do it with 10 men. It makes the job so much harder when it’s already hard with 11 men.

“Whoever the player may be, if you are left with 10, it makes the game twice as hard. I think that is actually why we took praise from the last Old Firm game because it is very rare you lose one and get praise.

“In the second half, we were magnificent to a man and it’s probably the only time you will lose an Old Firm and get praised, but it’s understood that’s how hard it is to win a game with 10 men.

“It’s individuals, but you have to realise it’s football. What are you going to do on a pitch? What’s another player going to do?

“Realistically, they can’t do anything. It’s a game of football.

“A lot of things are said on a pitch by 22 men and a lot of things are done, but it’s a game and you get on with it. It’s forgotten about at the end and you move on, but I felt the last time we were a bit inexperienced to it.

“There were a lot of new faces on the pitch who hadn’t played many Old Firm and it showed a bit.

“At the other end, it showed as a team and a squad we can compete.”

Victory for Rangers on Sunday will ultimately mean little in terms of the table, but it is an important test for Gerrard’s side nonetheless.

The momentum from December’s win was never harnessed, but a recent upturn has raised confidence levels.

Goldson said: “If you are in an Old Firm game and don’t bring you’re A game, you are going to get what you deserve. That day, the pressure was on us to get three points and I feel that everyone one of us to a man bought into it.

“The first half of the last Old Firm, we were a bit reactive, on the back foot a little bit. Second half we were brilliant and unfortunate in the end not to get something from the game.

“It just shows if you are not at it from the first minute to the last that you won’t get anything.

“I have said before that we are in a team with a lot of new faces and new bodies and what has happened in the last few years haven’t been in Rangers’ favour. At the same time, we weren’t involved in those. So we can go into games confident.

“We have won five on the bounce now and we want to carry that on into the weekend and finish the season as positively as we can.”