IN the build-up to the Old Firm game at Parkhead last month, the question was asked about which manager – Steven Gerrard or Neil Lennon – needed the win most?

Both, of course, had their respective reasons for requiring a victory but the consensus seemed to be that it was a bigger day for Lennon and Celtic than it was for Gerrard and Rangers.

Going into the Scottish Cup semi-final this weekend, the Northern Irishman again comes out on top if the same debate is held between him and Derek McInnes.

Defeat for Celtic wouldn’t just end their hopes of an unprecedented treble Treble, it would seemingly shatter Lennon’s chances of remaining as Celtic manager beyond the end of the campaign.

The stakes are therefore higher for Celtic. The rewards are greater, but the consequences more severe.

Much like the Old Firm game, though, just because the pressure is more intense on Lennon, that doesn’t mean the man in the opposite dugout wouldn’t have questions to answer in defeat.

McInnes won’t head to Hampden with his job on the line, but the 47-year-old will be determined to avoid another story of so near yet so far in his search for silverware.

When Aberdeen ended their near two decade long wait for a winner’s medal in 2014, supporters hoped it was a sign that their side would be able to compete for trophies on a regular basis.

That has kind of been the case, but the penalty shoot-out win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle remains the last time the Red Army have been able to celebrate success.

McInnes has certainly not done a bad job since, but his CV hasn’t been added to during a period when Aberdeen could have been more successful than they have been.

That will surely frustrate McInnes but, with Hearts or Caley Thistle awaiting, he now has an opportunity to achieve what he perhaps should have done before now and become the first Reds boss since Alex Smith to win the Scottish Cup.

It has been a steady if at times unspectacular season for Aberdeen in the Premiership this term and the run of successive second-place finishes will now come to an end.

While finishing best of the rest would have been one objective for McInnes at the start of the campaign, he would surely have set his sights on one of the cup competitions.

When McInnes rejected the opportunity to return to Ibrox and become Rangers boss, he effectively gave up his chances of leading a team to the top flight title in Scotland. For all the progress he has made in his six-years at Pittodrie, finances and outside factors dictate he will never be able to guide the Dons to Premiership glory.

To an extent, those same circumstances come into play in the cups and it would be wrong for Aberdeen fans to expect to beat Celtic given where both teams are right now. They must surely fancy their chances, though, and cup wins should not be beyond Aberdeen.

The team that Lennon will field on Sunday isn’t anywhere near the formidable outfit that McInnes twice came up against in their Invincible campaign as Celtic eased to Betfred Cup success with a 3-0 win and then wrote their name in the history books with a last-minute winner in the Scottish Cup.

McInnes’ detractors will say that he is too cautious or overly negative in the matches with Celtic and another meek defeat will anger fans.

The Betfred Cup final in December was as close as McInnes has come to overcoming Celtic at Hampden and in a season that has seen his side win twice at Ibrox, beat Rangers at the National Stadium and draw at Parkhead, he now has a chance to earn the most significant victory of them all.

The spotlight and the pressure will be on Lennon and Celtic but McInnes and Aberdeen have their own expectations to carry on their shoulders on Sunday.

McInnes will rightly take acclaim from those within the game, and the Pittodrie boardroom, for the overall job that he has done with Aberdeen.

But fans demand silverware and success and that is what McInnes must deliver, what will allow him to have his own piece of Reds history.

On a potentially defining afternoon at Hampden, Aberdeen have their own date with destiny.