THERE hasn't been a Premiership title race for years – but there could be one this season.
Celtic's quest for nine in a row is likely to meet stern resistance from Rangers in Stevie Gerrard's second season.
The Liverpool legend is looking for a improvement from his side who finished nine points adrift and has done his transfer business early and the likes of Sheyi Ojo and Joe Aribo look decent having netted the vital goals against Progres in midweek.
In a sense you can understand why because even at their current odds of 4-9 (Unibet) the Hoops represent little value.
I don't like predicting a winner at this stage as the Scottish transfer window is open for more than a month and much could depend on the future of players such as Kieran Tierney, Alfredo Morelos and James Tavernier.
Tierney is rated at £25million but the valuation hasn't been met while Gers skipper Tav says he wants to stay and win a trophy despite interest from clubs including Newcastle. Morelos will be allowed to go if a big bid is received.
The English window closes on August 8 and if Tierney leaves Celtic will have time to get a replacement – and the destination of the title could depend on how they spend the money if he ends up at Arsenal.
One thing I'm sure about is it will be a two-horse race – with the best of the rest being miles behind the big two.
Celtic haven't done too much in the window but maybe they didn't need to and there's no doubt their midfield is packed with industry and quality.
Ryan Christie is shaping up for a fantastic season and if Leigh Griffiths gets back to his best that will be a massive boost for Neil Lennon.
It wouldn't surprise me if Gers ended the nine-in-a-row bid but I can see Celtic edging it in a fantastic race so maybe the best bet is the challengers on the handicaps.
Prices will be released next week and I'll be looking too back Gers at between +3 and +5 points.
What of the rest? There's no chance of Kilmarnock finishing third with Angelo Alessio in charge and overseeing a Europa League shambles against Connah's Quay.
Rangers beat Celtic twice last season but failed in four league meetings with Killie dropping 10 points – two defeats and two draws. Next season they'll be looking to take 10 or 12 off the Rugby Park men and they open their campaign in Ayrshire a week on Sunday.
Gerrard's side are best 4-5 at Betway to start with three points and I can't see those odds lasting especially as Killie's only match after being knocked out of Europe is closed-doors game against amateurs Stewarton.
Aberdeen should regain their usual “best of the rest” title and are 10-11 with William Hill ahead of Hibs and probably Hearts if they sign Steven Naismith.
At the other end St Mirren have been a shambles in the Betfred Cup groups and although Jim Goodwin should improve the squad in time he faces a tough task keeping them up.
The Buddies are 5-6 with Sky Bet to finish bottom two and 11-4 at McBookie to go straight down just behind of new boys Ross County who are 5-2 at BetVictor.
In the Championship it's likely to be a frantic race to the finish with Dundee United, Dundee, Inverness and Partick Thistle all having claims.
Big-spending United may edge it but are a little short at 9-4 with bet365. I'd rather take ICT each way at 8-1 (3 places, one-fifth odds) with Sky Bet. However, Lawrence Shankland could be worth a look at top scorer at 5-2 with McBookie after banging them in for Ayr last season.
Falkirk are no bigger than 4-6 to take the League One title and again it's too short so look at Raith each way at 8-1 with McBookie.
Paul Hartley's Cove are involved for the first and every chance they could win League Two. The Highland League champions have strengthened and are 7-4 favourites with Ladbrokes.
Their hopes could depend on how prolific striker Mitch Megginson – 130 goals in three seasons – copes with the step up.
I reckon he'll score plenty and is 5-1 at McBookie to top score ahead of Edinburgh's Blair Henderson.
- Rangers +5
- Inverness ew
- Raith ew
- Shankland top scorer
- Megginson top scorer