THE first round of Scottish Building Society SWPL1 fixtures concludes today, providing what is unquestionably the game of the season so far. Glasgow City host Rangers in the televised BBC Alba match at Broadwood.

With all eight clubs having played six games City are in their accustomed position. They have 18 points, three more than today's opponents, while Celtic, who inflicted the only defeat on Rangers, have 13.

City have also fitted in three Champions League ties since the delayed season got underway in October. And while the other teams will not be in competitive action again until the end of the winter break on January 17, City play the second leg of their last 32 tie against Sparta Prague on Wednesday, having lost 2-1 in the Czech Republic.

There are various permutations today, but it is already a game Rangers can't afford to lose. If they do they'll not only fall six points behind City, but would also go into the break a point behind Celtic provided the latter win at Motherwell.

That's the downside for Rangers. The considerable upside is that they will head the table if they can find a way to win by three goals or more. Any lesser winning score would leave them marginally in second place.

The most expensively assembled squad in Scotland finally found top gear last Sunday, beating Motherwell 9-0. It almost doubled their previous total of ten goals in five games.

No prizes for guessing what might have made the difference. Rachel McLauchlan, Sam Kerr and Kirsty Howat arrived on pre-contracts from City and went straight into the side against Motherwell.

Howat made an immediate impact, notching a hat-trick to add to her earlier four goals for City. She is second top scorer in the league, one behind Forfar Farmington's Donna Paterson and three ahead of team-mate Lizzie Arnot and Celtic's Natalie Ross.

Throw in Nicola Docherty and Carly Girasoli and City could be facing five players who played a huge part in their 2019 league and Scottish Cup double. With Demi Vance out with an ACL rupture, teenager Girasoli has every chance of starting, as she did last Sunday.

The two head coaches, Malky Thomson and Scott Booth, are playing down suggestions that such a significant switch of personnel could add extra needle to what was already going to be an extremely hard fought contest.

“We'll be focusing on what we want to be doing,” Thomson pointed out. “I don't think it will be an old school type game in terms of a battle. I hope not.”

Booth added: “The players who left are still friendly and on good terms with the ones we have at City. They've made a decision to go and play for someone else – and in the past we've signed Rangers players.”

Vance was injured playing for Northern Ireland against Belarus at the end of last month and won't play again this season, but compatriot Megan Bell returned against Motherwell and scored.

“Demi's surgery isn't as bad as we first thought, but she has been given a period of between six to nine months,” Thomson reported. “She has got a desire that she's going to come back stronger, and has got it in her head that it will be six rather than nine.”

WHILE Rangers are free to play their new signings, the rules don't permit City to field former Hibernian full back Cailin Michie. That's because she arrived from Swedish side Pitea – which means she has to wait for the international window to open on January 1.

Michie will not be the only new face. Although City have neither confirmed nor denied it, Costa Rican forward Priscilla Chinchilla is coming to Glasgow.

As well as providing the league with a wonderfully rhyming name, Chinchilla, who is only 19, is already an established internationalist. Details are hard to substantiate, but according to one version she has played 16 games for Costa Rica, scoring nine goals.

What is certain is that one of these came in a 3-1 win over Argentina in September last year. She has also played twice against the United States, and is described as an exciting, attacking young player who can be deployed in any of the forward positions.

Her arrival will add yet more spice to the title race and she is unlikely to be the last of City's January signing.

FINALLY, very best wishes to Jen Beattie, who spoke movingly and courageously on Football Focus yesterday about learning she has breast cancer. The Arsenal and Scotland defender has the empathy and support of the entire footballing community.