The last time Hamilton Accies visited Ibrox, back in January 2011, a teenage Michael Devlin made his debut for the Lanarkshire club in a 4-0 defeat.
As they prepare to open the new Ladbrokes Premiership season on Saturday at a venue where they have not won since their famous Scottish Cup upset in 1987, Accies might be excused for feeling the fixtures computer has not been kind to them.
But defender Devlin, now captain of Hamilton at the age of 22, believes it can provide his team with an ideal start to the campaign and spoil Rangers’ big day as they return to the top flight of Scottish football.
“Everyone in our changing room is really excited about the game,” said Devlin. “It’s a great opportunity to show what we can do. We want to impose ourselves on the league early on. There’s no pressure on us at all. We have a gameplan, we will stick to it and we will try and take something from the game.
“We are under no illusions that it will be a hard game. It will be a full house because it will be the first game Rangers are playing since winning promotion to the Premiership. The atmosphere will be great and, if we get a result, then what a start for us. That would give us a lift and give us some real momentum going into the rest of the games.
“Saturday is a great game for us. You want to play in the biggest stadiums in front of the biggest crowds and against the best players. It doesn’t get much bigger than Rangers at Ibrox on the opening day of the season. If you’re not in the game for those kind of matches then you shouldn’t be playing football. Personally I’m ecstatic about it and we will be ready.
“You need to believe when you go to these places. It’s not so long ago we went to Celtic Park and won (in October 2014). We will take confidence from that. There will be a chance for us to get a result on Saturday and that’s what we will try to do.”
Hamilton made one of the most eye-catching signings of the summer by securing veteran Italian midfielder Massimo Donati and Devlin expects the former Celtic man to thrive on the stage which Saturday will provide.
“That won’t faze Massimo,” added Devlin. “He will thrive on that. Celtic is still close to his heart. He had a great time there and I think he will look forward to playing at Ibrox and also at Parkhead this season.
“Massimo has made a huge difference to us already. We had lost a few players and Massimo’s quality, his experience and personality has given us a big boost. We can all learn from him. He sits in front of the defence and makes the game so simple.
“It’s been a real lift for everyone and hopefully he can be a big player for us this season. He’s been a real calming influence for us. I wasn’t sure what he would be like but he is quiet, down to earth, under the radar. It’s not his style to act like a big name. He is composed, he is quality and he tries to use that to help the team.
“With guys like Massimo with us and Joey Barton at Rangers coming into our league this year, it can only be good for the Scottish game. The excitement is also back with Rangers back in the league. It looks like being a great season.”
It is a third consecutive campaign in the top flight for Accies who are again rated as favourites for bottom spot and automatic relegation by the bookmakers.
“We are used to it,” said Devlin. “We expect it. We are always the smallest club in the league and we are always written off. But that only makes it sweeter when we do our job and stay up. We’ve done that twice now. It was as bit up and down last season and we will be looking to stabilise it this season.
“The most important thing is to stay in the league. We are used to teams, people, other managers having a go and saying we are a small team and will struggle. But we will deal with that and use it as motivation.”