Rangers’ season is hanging in the balance.
But you won’t find Steven Gerrard trying to wriggle his way off the hook.
With the League Cup long-since gone, and the Light Blues’ title hopes increasingly faint, the Scottish Cup looks like the last real hope of silverware ending up in the Ibrox Trophy Room at the end of this campaign.
The pressure, then, on Tuesday night’s quarter-final replay with Aberdeen is enormous.
It’s the sort of combustible situation many managers would look to dampen down.
But Gerrard is no firefighter.
He is a different, defiant animal, one who insists he is ready to take responsibility for failures as well as successes.
“I can’t play it down. It’s a huge game,” said the Rangers boss of the Dons’ visit.
“This is a target for us, and it has been since the beginning of the season.
“We had a very tough match up at Pittodrie, which obviously went to a replay, and I’m sure Tuesday is going to be another tough night.
“Derek will have them fired up, and they’ll be looking to do to us what they’ve done to us before at Ibrox.
“The players are well aware of the challenge. It’s going to be tough.
“But I think the players owe it to the fans to go and reward them with a big victory and a big performance.”
So far, so bold.
And asked whether his side’s season now hinges entirely on Tuesday’s clash, Gerrard’s lengthy pause before offering an answer was impossible to ignore.
“I think it will look an awful lot better if we get the victory on Tuesday,” was the Gers boss’ careful, yet still admirably honest response.
“We’re all aware that it’s the last bit of silverware to play with – and that’s without conceding anything because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming weeks.
“But where we stand right now, it’s our best chance of silverware, so that adds to its importance.”
That Rangers have, at times, clicked into high gear under Gerrard is not in question.
On the other hand, their lack of consistency has ended up costing them in the Premiership.
It would be easy for their manager to lean on his relative managerial inexperience as an excuse.
It would be just as easy to point the finger at those on the park.
But the surplus of determination that served Gerrard so well as a player has clearly been carried into the dugout.
“I’m not after any sympathy, or anyone to feel sorry for me at all,” he said.
“We’ve got good players, we’re a good team and we’ve been backed.
“People will have their own opinion on it, but one thing I guarantee is, whatever happens – whether it’s a success or people deem it not successful – I won’t give up my charge to try and turn it round and get these fans some success. That’s a fact.”
Determination is admirable, but what if it isn’t enough?
What if, after all the fanfare, all the investment, and all the heightening of expectation, there isn’t a trophy to show for it?
How will Gerrard feel if May arrives and departs leaving him and his players empty-handed?
“That’s for you to judge – and other people, of course,” was his straight-bat response.
“I’ve got nothing to say on that really.
“We set out to try and do as best we can in every competition we’ve been in.
“I’ll judge myself and the team at the end of the season.
“But you are welcome to judge me any time.”
Such statements look defensive when set out in black and white. But there’s nothing of that in the way Gerrard delivers them face-to-face.
The Gers boss speaks like a man who holds himself to even higher standards than those typically expected of a Rangers manager.
That’s saying something – but it feels accurate.
His utterly straightforward assessment of his side’s damaging draw with Hibs on Friday – and of the title race position they now find themselves in – stands as irrefutable, and admirable, proof.
“Look, you can get away with a night like Friday once, maybe twice a season, if you’re lucky,” Gerrard said.
“You can’t do it five, six times, and that’s what we’ve done. Dundee away, St Johnstone at home, Hibs three times. There it is, there’s the evidence.
“It’s plain to see why we’re not neck-and-neck, or really breathing down Celtic’s neck.
“So we’ve got ourselves to blame for the gaffe, and I’m responsible for it.”