KIlmarnock vs RangersScottish Premiership, KO: 13:30 Aug 4, 2019, Rugby Park
A LOT has changed since Kilmarnock and Rangers clashed on the final day of the 2018/19 Scottish Premiership season.
Rugby Park revelled as Steve Clarke steered Killie into Europe but just 77 days later both Clarke and European football have come and gone.
Angelo Alessio is the Ayrshire sides new manager and even before the Italian makes his domestic debut it would appear that the knives are being sharpened for him after overseeing a catastrophic Europa League defeat against Welsh part-timers Connah's Quay Nomads.
Consequently, Kilmarnock have been short of competitive football ahead of the new league season getting underway and will be coming up against a Rangers side who have played two more Europa League qualifiers than their opponents.
Alessio will be aiming for a dream start that would help silence the doubters and despite Killie taking 10 points off of the Ibrox side last season they are as high as 9/2 (Ladbrokes) to start the new campaign with a win, whereas the draw is on offer at 3/1 (William Hill)
Those odds will reel in some punters for sure, especially when you consider that Rangers have failed to register a league win at Rugby Park since 2011, however if you fancy Steven Gerrard's side to put that right then a Gers win is on offer at 4/6 (Bet 365)
The short price on offer for an away is perhaps attributed to the fact that Rangers have scored 23 goals in their eight European qualifiers and pre-season friendlies since the start of June.
Yet, the Glasgow giants will be disappointed that they failed to score in Luxembourg on Thursday night, despite prevailing over two legs against Progres Nierkorn.
New Killie boss Angelo lessio will be hoping to take advantage of the Teddy Bears travels, but the Italian has vented his own frustrations at the lack of recruitment at Rugby Park since his arrival.
Only goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu and midfielder Mohamed El Makrini have been added to a squad that looks shallow following the departures of Jordan Jones and Kris Boyd, among others.
Therefore, expect Alessio's starting XI to include key figures from the Clarke era including Eamonn Brophy, Stewart Findlay and Alan Power.
Power will my first port of call for this tussle after the tenacious midfielder picked up 10 yellow cards for Kilmarnock last season.
No Killie player clocked up more bookings during their last campaign and the 13/8 (Bet 365) on offer for Power to pick up an opening day card appeals against one of the top two sides in the country.
However, Power and Kilmarnock may be powerless in preventing something that happens regularly in this fixture.
Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos has scored 10 goals in his last 10 matches against the Ayrshire side and I can see the much-maligned Colombian continuing to curse Kilmarnock on Sunday.
The 8/1 (William Hill) on offer for Morelos to score first and to be carded could also be worth considering.
However, Killie won't roll over and although the home side could be facing a season of transition I suspect that this could turn out to be a tight encounter on Sunday afternoon.
If Rangers want to be regarded as serious title-contenders then they will have to hit the ground running and I expect them to do so – however the 4/6 (Bet 365) on offer won't tempt many punters.
Therefore, an alternative angle to contemplate in sourcing value could be to combine a Rangers win along with last seasons Scottish Premiership top goalscorer Alfredo Morelos scoring at anytime at 7/4 (Bet 365).
This Scottish Premiership match between KIlmarnock and Rangers will be played on Aug 4, 2019 and kick off at 13:30