Scottish set for kick-off

The Scottish season gets under way this weekend with Rangers FC and Celtic FC once again likely to dominate.

No guarantees
However, manager Alex McLeish knows it would be folly for his treble-winners to expect to dominate the Scottish game for a second season. Last year's UEFA Cup finalists Celtic FC will be desperate to make sure silverware, as well as fantastic memories, are theirs to treasure at the end of the new campaign.

Memorable season
But there is no denying that last year was truly a memorable one for Scottish football. Rangers secured the Premier League title on goal difference in stoppage time of the final match of the season, while Glasgow rivals Celtic re-established themselves as a European force, reaching the UEFA Cup final in Seville.

Dramatic final
Some 80,000 Celtic fans descended on the Andalusian capital on 21 May to watch their team lose 3-2 after extra time to FC Porto. To make matters worse, three days later they had their broken hearts shattered into tiny pieces when Rangers emerged triumphant in the championship race. On that frantic last day, Rangers registered their 50th league title by the smallest of margins - only two goals separated the sides after 38 games left the old enemies tied on 97 points.

New signings
Rangers have since bolstered their ranks with four new signings. Georgian international Zura Khizanishvili arrived from Dundee FC and Nuno Capucho was prised from Porto after he helped defeat Celtic in his final game for that club. Just this week Norway's Henning Berg and former Bologna defender Paolo Vanoli also joined to reinforce a squad that has lost Neil McCann, Lorenzo Amoruso and Bert Konterman.

Strangely quiet
Celtic have been quiet in the transfer market - buying no one and letting only reserve keeper Javier Sánchez Broto depart Parkhead. Hoops fans will hope consistency of selection helps their initial form while manager Martin O'Neill looks to secure new talent before the close of the transfer window later this month.

Dominant duo
Such is the Old Firm's dominance, however, that it is almost inconceivable that they will be split by another side in the quest for the title. If they are to be pushed, then Heart of Midlothian FC - boosted by the signings of striker Dennis Wyness and winger Paul Hartley - are the most likely contenders as they look to build on their third place last term.

Outside contenders
Dundee United FC may be a renewed force with Ian McCall busy on the transfer scene signing Falkirk FC's Collin Samuel and Mark Kerr as well as Derek McInnes from England's West Bromwich Albion FC. Livingston FC have a Brazilian blend for the new campaign with Marcio Maximo in charge at Almondvale and Motherwell FC have retained the services of James McFadden despite intense transfer interest.

Invincible signing
Kilmarnock FC will hope that new arrival Danny Invincible lives up to his name on the pitch and Dunfermline Athletic FC will become one of four teams in Europe to benefit from a UEFA grant and play on a revolutionary plastic pitch.

Thrills and spills
But with the new season upon us, there is nothing artificial about the high hopes for a campaign to match the thrills and spills provided last time out.