Steven Gerrard’s previous attempts to build Rangers into a title-winning team may have crumbled but Falkirk co-manager David McCracken believes he has laid down the foundations for success.
Gerrard is yet to make a deposit in the Ibrox trophy room after kicking off his managerial career with two barren years in Govan.
However, things are looking much more promising this term, with the Light Blues 11 points clear at the top of the Premiership, albeit having played two games more than bitter rivals Celtic.
They are also on course for a place in the Europa League last 32 and will kick-off their bid to win their first Betfred Cup in 10 years when they face McCracken’s Bairns on Sunday.
Yet it was only in 2016 that the two teams were duking it out for promotion from the Championship, as Rangers continued their climb back from the depths of Scotland’s lower leagues.
McCracken was even part of a Falkirk team who twice stunned an Ibrox line-up containing current skipper James Tavernier at home as they eventually finished runners-up to Mark Warburton’s Gers.
Both teams suffered a crisis of confidence, however. While the Bairns began a slide that ultimately saw them relegated to League One last year, Rangers took time readjusting to life in the top-flight.
They have, though, rediscovered their swagger this term under Gerrard and the former Liverpool captain is setting his sights on re-establishing the club as domestic kings.
And McCracken is not surprised by the impact the Champions League-winner has had.
“Some people look at them and say it’s taken them a long time to get here,” said McCracken. “But there was a lot to achieve considering where they were starting from with all the carry on from a few years ago.
“It doesn’t surprise me how far they’ve come. With Gerrard coming in, he’s laid the foundations initially and now they are starting to reap the benefits this year.
“They are playing some great football. There is an understanding there. The players know exactly what’s expected of them.”
Rangers’ defence has reached miserly new levels this term, offering top-flight opponents just three goals in 15 games so far.
The Bairns are enjoying a resurgence themselves and currently top League One six games into the new season.
But McCracken admits the side he manages along with Lee Miller will only have a chance if Gerrard’s team have their eye taken off the ball by Europe and dreams of smashing Celtic’s bid for 10-in-a-row.
“Absolutely we’re hoping they’ll be distracted,” he said. “They’ve obviously got big games right now. Looking at the Europa League match with Benfica tonight and some big games in the league there might possibly be changes to their team.
“There might not be but we’ll still prep as we would normally do. This is an opportunity for the boys to enjoy.
“I wouldn’t say it was daunting. We’re trying to reiterate that to the boys. It’s a big game and a great opportunity to play against the standard of player Rangers have.
“But we’ve been there before. Lee, myself and a few other boys in the team have experienced wins over Rangers and we know it’s achievable to get a result.
“At the same time you’ve got to respect the standard Rangers are playing at.
“They’re without doubt the in-form team in the country and whether or not they make changes after the Benfica game, it’s still going to be a high standard of player facing us on Sunday.”