IF the Scottish Cup fourth round match at Ibrox next Saturday goes ahead as scheduled, then Celtic will be quietly confident of recording an away win over Rangers that keeps alive their hopes of salvaging something from their season and lifting a trophy.

The 2020/21 campaign has been desperately disappointing for the Glasgow club. Their bid to make football history by completing 10-In-A-Row ended in frustration and failure. Neil Lennon was forced to stand down as manager due to dire results and off-field unrest. 

Yet, if Robby McCrorie, the on-loan Rangers goalkeeper, hadn’t been in such inspired form for Livingston in their first post-split Premiership match at Parkhead yesterday, their opponents could very easily have reached double figures.

The Scotland Under-21 player denied Mohamed Elyounoussi on no fewer than three occasions and also produced fine saves from decent attempts by Scott Brown and Odsonne Edouard. However, he was still unable to keep the result respectable for the visitors.

James Forrest opened the scoring on the half hour mark and David Turnbull added a second before half-time. Jack Fitzwater turned the ball into his own net early in the second-half before Elyounoussi notched a double. Then Ryan Christie pounced on an error by his fellow substitute Efe Ambrose with a few minutes remaining and slotted home a sixth.

Forrest, who only returned from a lengthy injury lay-off last month, limping off with a hamstring strain in the second-half was an unwelcome sight for interim manager John Kennedy. But it was the only negative on what was a hugely satisfying afternoon for him.

It was Celtic’s biggest win since they defeated KR Reykjavik 6-0 in a Champions League qualifier way back in August and their most emphatic domestic triumph all term.

The fact the funeral of HRH Prince Phillip will be held on Saturday afternoon at 3pm could result in the Glasgow derby match being postponed. The SFA has opened talks with stakeholders to decide on the best course of action. But Kennedy will be keen to see the game played as soon as possible after this.

“The performance gives us the foundation and the basis to get results,” he said. “It has been a case of building back the structure, making sure everybody knows their roles. Then the quality always comes through.

“If you get that basis right you can control games and you can build up the confidence which we have seen today in abundance with our important players doing damage in the box.

“It was really pleasing, I thought our decision making in the final third was very good as well – we got much more attempts from inside the box. It was a top performance.”

Asked if it was the perfect preparation for the Rangers game, Kennedy said: “Yeah, it was good. It has been building blocks for us in recent weeks in terms of building up performance.

“But we know if we are on our A game we can cause Rangers huge problems so it is a good game to come out of with scoring goals and having that extra bit of confidence. We can hopefully take it into next week and win that game.

“We had a moment where we gave the ball away and gave a chance away, but that happens. The other side of that is we then create from Scott Bain starting with the ball. When we start with the ball we are confident. We invite teams on, then we know we can create space in behind and do damage.

“There is a balance to it, you have to create with a purpose. The players have to trust what we are trying to do and if anybody doesn’t then it becomes disjointed. But they have been absolutely terrific.

“Week by week you see their confidence getting higher and then it is about creating chances and being clinical. From where they were, a difficult period with the manager leaving, I think slowly we are getting back into top gear and firing at the right times.”

Kennedy hasn’t suffered a defeat in the five games that he has been in interim charge of Celtic and is hopeful that his charges, who drew 1-1 with Rangers at Parkhead last month, can step it up another level after their impressive Livingston performance.

“There always is a point to prove,” he said. “I think last time we did in terms of performance, but now it is all about getting a result next week. I felt this coming for the last few weeks, especially the cup game (against Falkirk last week).

“I thought we were going to score a few goals and give someone a bit of a hiding, but today was a great example of that in terms of putting a performance in and putting it all together.”

David Martindale, the Livingston manager, believes the Celtic display has boosted Kennedy’s chances of being appointed manager on a permanent basis. But the former Scotland defender is relaxed about his personal position.

“I am really calm about it,” he said. “I am not stressing about it. I am comfortable enough about what I have done here, over the years. I do my absolute best every day. I do that for the players every day and now it is purely Rangers.”