Glasgow, Scotland – There is little room for debate: Celtic is the clear favorite to win the Scottish Premier League this season.
The SPL has been a traditional two-horse race between bitter rivals Celtic and Rangers, but after the blue-half of Glasgow saw its club enter administration and get demoted to Scotland's fourth tier, the pathway for the Hoops to repeat as champions got much easier.
But with Celtic's title defense set to begin Saturday with a home match against Aberdeen, manager Neil Lennon refuses to believe that kicking off the campaign with three points against Craig Brown's side will be an easy task.
"Aberdeen have been very impressive over preseason and have had some decent results in Germany," the Hoops boss told the club's official website. "Craig has stabilized the club and brought in Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn who will make them better. They have a good core of experience there as well so I will expect them to give us a very good game. They are in for a pretty good season this year.
"We're ready for the season ahead, though. The majority of the squad is healthy and Wednesday night will have stood us in good stead for what's coming [Saturday]."
Celtic's season has already begun as the club faced a crucial midweek Champions League qualifier against HJK Helsinki. The Hoops fell behind but battled back to claim a vital 2-1 win in the first leg.
Even with three games on top of each other, Lennon does not plan on altering the squad.
"I'm not going to experiment with the team or rest players," Lennon said. "It's important we get off to a good start. I'm hoping for a good crowd tomorrow and it's another game towards the Helsinki game.
"It will be important that the players get another 90 minutes under their belts and get up to match-speed. I was really pleased with them on Wednesday night and I want more of the same on Saturday."
Celtic's early encounter with Aberdeen on Saturday will be followed by four other matches.
Motherwell looks to replicate its third-place finish from last season when it squares off against promoted Ross County at Victoria Park. Also, Hearts kicks off its season with a home match against St. Johnstone, Kilmarnock welcomes promoted side Dundee FC to Rugby Park and St. Mirren hosts Inverness in a meeting between last season's ninth and 10th-place finishers.
Sunday's lone match will feature Dundee United hosting Hibernian at Tannadice Park.