While the eight-times champions struggled to a 2-2 draw with the bottom club, Celtic dealt with Aberdeen despite the absence of three of their quartet of foreign stars. With Pierre van Hooijdonk, Andreas Thom and Jorge Cadete all out, the Italian di Canio was asked to assert himself and did so in style.
Di Canio delivered in the 70th minute, scoring with a simple, close-range shot to give Celtic a vital psychological advantage ahead of the Old Firm meeting at Celtic Park on Thursday week.
The destination of the League title will now depend on the strength of Celtic's will and the response from Ibrox. Already David Murray, the Rangers chairman, is reported to have enrolled the services of Kenny Dalglish to attract top players from abroad and, while that appointment has not yet been officially confirmed, it does indicate that Rangers continue to have ambitions both at home and abroad.
For their part, Celtic can welcome back their top three foreign players and new signings are expected shortly. They will also hope to retain Van Hooijdonk, who has been in contractual dispute with the club.
n The Dumbarton manager Jim Fallon has resigned from the Scottish Second Division club, claiming he had decided to quit before Saturday's 5-0 defeat by Livingston. "Football is an enjoyment as far as I am concerned, but I am not enjoying it at the moment," he said. "However I would like to get back into the game some time in the future."
Dumbarton are second from bottom with one win in 12 matches and are the only Scottish League side yet to record a home victory.