BACKERS of favourites need to be careful on Saturday as the Scottish season opens with the Betfred Cup group stage.
This is much better than friendlies but many teams will use the matches to hone fitness ahead of the SPFL kick-off.
Last season there were plenty of shocks at this stage so resist the temptation to lump on all the favourites.
Premiership sides Motherwell, Livingston and St Mirren all face tricky starters and the best way to go could be to back goals.
Hearts played last night and of course the sides who qualified for Europe don't enter until the knockout stages.
Celtic are 11-8 favourites to win the trophy as they attempt the first leg of a quadruple treble. Rangers are 4-1 with Aberdeen 16-1 and Hibs 20-1.
Hibs have been banging them in pre-season and I expect more of the same when they visit Stirling. Paul Heckingbottom's men finished the last campaign strongly and are no bigger than 2-9 at sportingbet to win at Forthbank.
Heckingbottom, whose signing of Forest Green striker Christian Doidge could be a cracker, will be looking for a positive start against the League One men and I like Hibs and over 2.5 goals at 8-13 with Betway. If you see scorer prices take a chance on Doidge who was prolific for Rovers a couple of seasons ago.
Motherwell start life minus Jake Hastie, the injured David Turnbull and Chris Cadden at Queen of the South. The Championship men have retained talisman Stephen Dobbie and he's been in fine form pre-season.
Queens shocked several top-flight sides in cups last season and I'm backing them to cause another surprise at 3-1 with William Hill whil draw no bet is safer at 9-4 with Betfred. Again if you see odds take Dobbie to score.
St Mirren have a new manager in Jim Goodwin but he'll know Dunfermline well from last season when he was in charge at Alloa. best bet here could be both to score at 3-4 with bet365.
Of the other Premiership sides in action Hamilton should see off Queen's Park fairly comfortably while new boys Ross County tempt on accas at 1-3 with William Hill to beat Montrose in Dingwall.
Livingston have lost a couple of key men such as Craig Halkett and Declan Gallagher and could falter at Falkirk who will be looking for a good show as they plot a move up from League One. The Bairns are evens at Marathonbet not to lose.
One of the ties of the day could be Raith v Dundee with the Dens men doing all they can to target a return to the top flight under James McPake. Both to score looks a shout at 8-13 with Betfred.
Peterhead meet Cove Rangers in a Betfred Cup game for the first time and the newbies will be out to impress after steamrollering through the play-offs at the end of the season.
Both sides have plenty of firepower with the home again looking to Rory McAllister and I like over 2.5 match goals at 8-11 with bet365.
Lowland League side East Kilbride have made some stellar signings including Darren O'Dea and they'll go to close to reaching League Two. I'm backing them at 11-8 with McBookie to beat an Albion Rovers side lucky to avoid the drop.
Other sides to look at are Dumbarton at 11-8 away to Annan, Forfar at 3-5 at home to local rivals Brechin and Ayr at 1-3 away to Berwick.