Hearts will put pressure on Celtic by leapfrogging them to the top of the league, for a day at least, with a win against Livingston this afternoon. But the highest stress levels in Scotland this weekend will be found at Ibrox, where Alex McLeish's Rangers will seek to end the longest winless run in the club's history.
The defending champions, 15 points off the summit, host Falkirk with an injury-ravaged side that then has to face Internazionale in a do-or-die Champions' League game on Tuesday.
"We need to start winning," said McLeish, who seems unlikely now to add to the seven trophies he has won at Rangers but is a hot favourite for honours in stating the obvious. "If the players play well against Falkirk, then it obviously puts them into contention for Tuesday," he said.
"No one should be focusing on the Champions' League game too much but they can use it for motivation and inspiration to get a good result in the SPL."
Rangers will be without their captain, Barry Ferguson, who is suspended after his red card in the defeat at Hibernian last Sunday. Three strikers - Dado Prso, Nacho Novo and Federico Nieto - are also out injured, as are the defenders Julien Rodriguez and Olivier Bernard, but midfielders Brahim Hemdani and Alex Rae. Fernando Ricksen and Thomas Buffel are expected to return from injury.
McLeish said he has not been distracted by Ports-mouth's interest in him for their managerial vacancy. "I am fully and totally focused on Rangers and the next two matches," he said. Two matches may be all he has left at Rangers, with fresh speculation yesterday that Rangers want Paul Le Guen to replace him. The former Lyon manager is "very interested in the job", according to his assistant, Yves Colleu.
Graham Rix, in his third match as Hearts' head coach, will be hoping for a first win when Livingston visit Tynecastle. Hearts have won all seven at home in the SPL this season, scoring 15 goals and conceding one. Livingston are bottom of the table, with only one win all season.
Celtic, one point clear of Hearts this morning, play at Aberdeen tomorrow, and hope to have Shunsuke Nakamura and Shaun Maloney back in the side. Both were both absent for last week's surprise home defeat by Dunfermline.Reuse content