Rangers' Borna Barisic reckons Celtic interim manager John Kennedy was "disrespectful" by claiming his side are "still the best in the country".
Kennedy made the assertion following last weekend's 6-0 win over Livingston, using the caveat "on our day".
Champions Rangers are 20 points ahead of Celtic in the Premiership.
"I think that is the biggest joke I heard this year," said Barisic as the Old Firm rivals prepare to meet in the Scottish Cup on Sunday.
"They didn't win against us in three games and we are 20 points in front of them, so it is disrespectful a little bit to us. That's my comment on that."
With four matches remaining, Rangers remain unbeaten in the league, with two wins and a draw against Celtic this season.
"You need to be in life always realistic," added Croatia international Barisic. "If someone is better and if someone is 20 points in front of you, you just don't talk like that. It is disrespectful for all the things we do this season.
"It is not only from him. I know a lot of people talking about Celtic's situation with Covid and all of these things. It's like we've lost five games or we are just five points in front of them.
"We are 20 points clear in front of them, we didn't lose a game this year. It is disrespectful to talk about anyone and changes. I am talking about this season. That's it."
Kennedy later insisted his comments had been taken "out of context" and that he has "full respect" for Rangers' title success.
"People sometimes take a small part of that statement and turn it and twist it into whatever they want to suit their own argument and that is careless for me," said the caretaker Celtic manager.
"I am entitled to say that on any given day, especially going into a cup tie against Rangers, I fancy us on our day to come out on top and that is purely what it is."
Celtic have not lost in the Scottish Cup since Rangers beat them on penalties in the 2016 semi-finals.
And Ibrox manager Steven Gerrard said what had happened in previous games this season "will have no bearing" on Sunday's encounter.
"Intensity and tempo is something we will strive for, to be at our best," he added. "I believe, as a team, we play our best football when we are aggressive and when we play quick."
Meanwhile, captain James Tavernier has made a return to training, with Gerrard saying he would make a "late call" on the full-back's fitness before Sunday's match at Ibrox.
The 29-year-old has missed the past nine matches with a knee injury.
Rangers have also announced they will welcome Arsenal in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, 17 July to mark their 150th anniversary.
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