SCOTT BROWN admits that Celtic will have to go back to the drawing board before facing Rangers again after being outplayed by the Ibrox side in their last two encounters.

The Celtic captain conceded that Rangers had been the better side both in yesterday’s win at Celtic Park and in the Betfred Cup final, despite his own side lifting the trophy on that day at Hampden.

And Brown says that Celtic will have to come up with a plan during their winter training camp in Dubai to ensure that they can wrest the upper hand back from their rivals in the second half of the season.

“Rangers played quite well,” Brown said. “They closed us down and we didn’t play as well as we could have.

“They closed the middle of the park, as they always do when they play against us, and we couldn’t get our wingers into the game quickly enough.

“We need to learn now, because that’s two games in a row now where they’ve probably outplayed us.

“It’s all about how we come back now, because the last time this happened we were over in Dubai and we got a proper pre-season, and it’s going to be similar to that for us.

“The main thing was that we won the cup final, we’re still top of the league. They’ve got a game in hand, but we’re certainly not in too bad a place.

“It’s the performances against Rangers that we need to make sure we improve on. For us, we know what we need to do and what we need to improve on.

“We’ll have a few days off before meeting up in Dubai and we’ll figure out how we’re going to play against Rangers the next time.

“We’ll bounce back. We’ve got a game against Partick Thistle when we come back, and that’s going to be hard for us.

“It was the exact same last year, we have to make sure we come back with a great attitude and in a better place.”

Brown was sorely disappointed by Celtic’s showing in a defeat that moves Rangers to within two points of his side with a game in hand, but he has backed his teammates to bounce back in the New Year, just as they did after losing at Ibrox last December.

“It’s always a challenge for us no matter who we play,” he said. “Everyone wants to beat us.

“We have a great record at home and today was the day we lost it. We don’t like it, but we have to make sure we start 2020 with a bang.

“For us, it’s always tough to take a defeat. We’re in the same situation we were in last year when we lost the game at Ibrox.

“It wasn’t our best performance today, we know that, but the main thing is that we’re still top of the league and we’ve had a great run so far.

“Now, similar to last year, we have to make sure we bounce back after going to Dubai and having a good pre-season, coming back here fitter and stronger.”

Some of the Celtic players looked tired in the defeat to Rangers after a gruelling first half of the season, and while Brown wasn't using fatigue as an excuse against a Rangers side who have also played plenty of football, he does believe that an injection of fresh blood into the squad in January can help revitalise Celtic, just as it did last January and in the summer.

“Definitely [the new signings helped], and especially the signings in the summer," he said.

"Big Fraser has been unbelievable and (Jeremie) Frimpong has been great. We’ve got Mohamed (Elyounoussi) and players like that coming back to fitness as well.

“I’m sure the gaffer will want to strengthen the squad, but we’ll have to work with what we’ve got until then in Dubai.”