AS Devon Loch once showed, even a seemingly straight-forward one-horse race sometimes doesn’t work out the way you might expect.

Most observers of the Scottish game would concede that the Premiership though is very much a race of the two-horse variety, with either Celtic or Rangers sure to be crowned champions, as has now been the way for over 36 years.

Who comes out on top of that duel though can often be decided by how they fare when up against the so-called also-rans, and Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou is keen that his team’s chances of taking the Scottish crown aren’t knocked off course by failing to take proper heed of those who might be considered very much of the midfield.

And that’s why his focus is very much on tonight’s game against Hearts at Celtic Park rather than allowing his mind to drift towards what it might mean for his side’s proximity to Rangers as they chase down their city rivals at the top of the table.

Which is just as well, seeing as Robbie Neilson’s men could in fact overtake Celtic into second place at this crucial juncture of the race if they are the ones who claim the three points this evening.

"I think every game is a challenge,” Postecoglou said. “That's where the priority is with me and if you start thinking you're only involved in a two horse race then there's no doubt if it turns into a two horse race then you will finish second.

"That's because you've disregarded the rest of the field and I'm not going to do that and I haven't done that.

"Every game is a challenge, home or away. There are going to be things which happen within games. At the weekend we started well and then you get a penalty awarded against you and there was a challenge within that game.

"If you start thinking you can just focus on next week or that this one is not for us this week then it doesn't matter how many horses are in the race, you are definitely not going to finish first.

"I'm just not interested in people focusing on a two horse race as for me, every game is a challenge, particularly when games come thick and fast.

"I'm not going to disrespect any opponent and we're not going to think any opponent is going to be any simpler a challenge for us to solve than any other. It's the same three points and it's all about putting those three points in the bank.

"It'll be a tough match. Hearts have been very consistent, they have some excellent players, are well organised and have an outstanding goalkeeper. They have some speed up front and we are ready for that.

"Ultimately it's about us and how we play our football, particularly at home, we need to put the opposition on the backfoot and dominate the game.

"We want to play in the opposition half and if we can do that then we give ourselves a chance of being successful.”

In terms of selection issues for the game, Postecoglou’s biggest headache may come in how he composes his midfield, with Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton now available again after injury.

He was impressed by James McCarthy’s showing against Aberdeen at the weekend, though he says there is still a lot more to come from the Irish international.

"I thought his performance on Saturday was good,” he said. “We need to remember that he's had a disrupted pre-season and that was his first meaningful start for quite a while.

"It was his first 90 minutes and it's not an easy task to come into a team and perform at those levels so he got through the game well which was the main thing physically.

"He had no issues which was great and I think he got a taste of it. He's one we are going to need this season because of his experience and the way he plays his football. Everyone knows he can improve and we want him to improve.

"Like the rest of the players, when you come into the team, that's your baseline and he's getting the opportunity to perform at a high level.”