'Some wouldn't even be ball-boys' - O'Neill on evolution of Old Firm

The last time an Old Firm derby was contested in a Scottish Cup final, Martin O'Neill was in the Celtic dugout.

It was to be Rangers' day 22 years ago, as the Ibrox side prevailed in a 3-2 thriller to lift the trophy, with thanks to Peter Lovenkrands' 90th-minute winner.

Those days were a different time to now, but as O'Neill alludes to on a special edition of the BBC's Scottish Football Podcast, there are some intriguing parallels as the fierce rivals get set to meet again in an end-of-season showdown.

Celtic were champions then and champions now. However, while Brendan Rodgers' side had to get themselves over the line late on, the 2002 champions strolled to glory.

"Winning the league was the big thing," O'Neill said. "In my five years there, we contested the cup final four times and won it three.

"To lose to Rangers in any games, even in a friendly game out in Australia, is condemning yourself to a couple of months of misery.

"But to lose a cup final is really, really poor - and in the manner we did.

"We had a big consolation in the sense that we had won the league."

Even a brief glance at the teamsheets on that day at Hampden Park shows how bursting with quality both sides were.

Henrik Larsson, Rab Douglas, Johan Mjallby, Chris Sutton, John Hartson, Neil Lennon, Paul Lambert and Stylian Petrov wore green and white hoops.

Man of the match Lovenkrands was in blue, alongside the likes of Fernando Ricksen, Barry Ferguson, Ronaldo de Boer, Stefan Klos, Neil McCann, Lorenzo Amorosu and Claudio Caniggia.

So, how big is the gap in quality 24 years later?

"I'm always fearful of drawing contrast of something that happened in the past because you think 'are you just glorifying your own team?'" O'Neill said.

"When I came up in the year 2000, the Rangers team was incredibly strong and remained incredibly strong for a number of years.

"There was more money around, the fact Rangers could spell £12m on Tore Andre Flo.

"The Rangers side of 20-odd years ago would really nail this current Rangers side. Some of the current players wouldn't even have been ball-boys in the side we played against."