The opening weekend of the domestic Scottish Premiership campaign will see Steven Gerrard lead Rangers to Pittodrie for one of the most testing fixtures on the calendar against Aberdeen.
The Europa League must be put on hold for now for the Ibrox men until next midweek whilst for Derek McInnes and Aberdeen of course Europe must wait for another season following their extra-time elimination at the hands of Burnley.
Rangers had the better of the ‘Dons’ in four clashes last season, accumulating ten points out of a possible twelve yet somehow managed to finish third in the League, three points adrift of Aberdeen due to the campaign having been plagued by inconsistencies.
One player who will be assured of a ‘warm’ welcome at his old stomping ground is ‘Gers midfielder Ryan Jack, outstanding against Osijek in midweek.
The former ‘Dons’ captain was likewise superb at Pittodrie last December as Rangers won 2-1 only to blot his copybook with a red card in the closing stages of the game.
Jack will need to remain focused on his game on Sunday even if as expected the vitriol will pour down from the stands.
This early test will certainly go some way to providing an indication as to the mettle of Gerrard’s Rangers with the travelling Light Blue legions seeking all three points to underline what they believe will be a serious and prolonged title challenge.
The Ibrox boss though refused to be drawn on whether his squad is good enough and strong enough for that title challenge.
“It’s a difficult question to answer as it’s a long season and this is just the start,” he said.
“We made a lot of changes for a reason - we felt the squad needed that amount of surgery to help it compete.
“The idea is to make the squad as strong as possible and have variety in every position so we have the quality to compete across the whole season.”
Gerrard may be new to the pressures of life at Ibrox – but he has clearly learned from the mistakes of some of his recent predecessors.
“We don’t want to put any added pressure on ourselves than there is already,” he said.
“All I’ve told the players is simply to focus on one game at a time. We have confidence and belief in ourselves. We’re trying to create a culture and a winning mentality in the dressing-room which helps us grow stronger - but it will take time.
“However, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. The important thing is to focus on Aberdeen on Sunday.
“Every fan, every pundit, every media guy will have his opinion on where Rangers are at the minute. I don’t think we need to get involved in that.
“I’m really pleased with our fitness levels. We’ve had two really good tests against Osijek over the last seven days as well as the friendly with Wigan where we could get people up to speed. We’re ready for the test that Sunday will bring.”