Steven Gerrard believes the Premiership title will be decided by mistakes.
Rangers are just two points behind Celtic – with a game in hand against St Johnstone – as the league campaign resumes on Wednesday.
While their victory in the Old Firm clash before the winter break was hugely encouraging for the Ibrox supporters, Gerrard remains pragmatic as he assesses the remainder of the campaign.
He sees the next five months as a huge test of nerve – one he challenges his men to rise to.
Gerrard said: “Both teams have hectic fixture schedules. It would be highly unlikely that both of us will be perfect until the end of the season.
“This could be a case of who makes the least mistakes has the more successful end.”
Gerrard is happy with the resolve shown by his regular starters this term.
However, several fringe players have consistently failed to impress, and that means the manager will have to depend on those who have already played a lot of football.
They will be competing against a Celtic side that is being bolstered by several new signings.
Gerrard went on: “The mentality from the beginning of the season until now has been really impressive.
“If we’ve any ambitions on having a successful season, we need to be ready. We have improved, but the bar has been raised.
“As regards the consistency of ourselves and Celtic, I don’t see much changing.”
Although it was a rather uninspiring performance against Stranraer on Friday night, Gerrard was happy the fixture took place.
This time last year, Rangers’ Scottish Cup tie against Cowdenbeath was postponed, and they returned to league action with a defeat at Kilmarnock.
Gerrard wants no sluggish restart to the Premiership this time, starting with the home game against St Mirren on Wednesday.
“We are glad the Stranraer game went ahead as we felt we missed this type of game last year,” he said. “It is the reason we played Queen of the South in a bounce game yesterday, and had the game in Dubai.
“We wanted to get into our rhythm quicker than we did last year. You try to learn your lessons.
“If our cup game had been on at Cowdenbeath last season, we would probably have been in better shape going to Kilmarnock.
While Gerrard is clearly displeased that players like Jordan Jones, Brandon Barker and Sheyi Ojo failed to impress in the win over Stranraer, Nathan Patterson grabbed his chance in the right-back role.
The 18-year-old looks an exciting prospect, but will have to show a little patience as he strives to become a first-team player.
Gerrard added: “We have signed him up for a long time, so he will get more chances in the near future. I wouldn’t be doing him any favours by tossing him in the deep end right now. But he will be around the first-team and learning.
“This is the start for him. He has had a taste, but he needs to work hard for the next chance.”
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