Mark Warburton claims Rangers are ready to go to the next level with the help of their summer recruits.
The Ibrox boss has made nine signings so far this summer and is still eyeing a couple more as he prepares for a title duel with Celtic.
Experienced campaigners like Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar, Clint Hill and Matt Gilks have been welcomed into the Light Blues dressing room alongside younger arrivals Josh Windass, Matt Crooks, Jordan Rossiter, Lee Hodson and Joe Dodoo.
They have replaced the eight players who were allowed to leave at the end of last season despite playing parts in Gers’ stylish promotion triumph.
But Warburton insists the result is an improvement in the overall standard of his squad.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Friday night’s Betfred Cup clash with East Stirlingshire, the Englishman said: “I’m never going to be disrespectful to the players who have left. They did a fantastic job for the club.
“But we have gone up to the next level and the expectation is very clear. We know what we have to do.
“There is no rash predictions but we have to be more than competitive. We said the same last year and I’ll repeat it this season.
“So to get the players in that we have is really pleasing. I think we’ve got a nice balance of maturity, experience and ruggedness with the young talents like Jordan Rossiter, Matt Crooks, Josh Windass and Joe Dodoo, so we’re delighted.
“We’ve done some good work so far. We’d like to bring in one or two more ideally but it’s not easy.”